Skip to main content

Full text of "Mind's Eye: A Liberal Arts Journal 2012"

See other formats


Mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 


Gerol Petruzella 
William Montgomery 


Deborah Brown 
Jason Wandrei 


fill Gilbreth 
Melanie Mowinski 
Mark D. Miller 
Barry Sternlieb 
Jeff McRae 
Michelle Gillett 
Hannah Fries 
Abbot Cutler 

Seth Kershner 

Gregory Scheckler 

Mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 

Editorial Board 

Frances Jones-Sneed, Managing Editor 
Robert Bence 
Sumi Cofligaii 
Abbot Cutler 
Mark D. Miller 
William Montgomery 
Melanie Mowinski 

Leon Peters 
Jennifer L. Zoltanskl 

Karen Howard, Copy Editor 

Advisory Board 

James MacGregor Burns, Professor of History and Political Science, 
University of Maryland 
Stephen Fix, Professor of English, Williams College. 
Tony Gengarelly, Professor of Art History, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 
Thomas Green, Professor of Law and History, University of Michigan 
Mary Huber, Carnegie Foundation Scholar 
Lea Newman, Professor of English Emerita, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 
Joseph thompsnn, Director of MASH MoCA 

© 2012 The Minds Eye 
ISSN 1098-0512 

The Mind's Eye, a journal of scholarly and creative work, is published annually by 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. While emphasizing articles of scholarly merit, 
The Mind's Eye focuses on a general communication of ideas of interest to a liberal arts 
college. We welcome expository essays, including reviews, as well as fiction, poetry and 
art. Please refer to the inside back cover for a list of writer's guidelines, 

A yearly subscription to 'lhc Mind's Eye is $7.50. Send check or money order to The 
Mind's Eye, C/O Frances Jones-Sneed, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 375 Church 
Street, North Adams, MA 01247. 

2 The Mind's Eye 

Mind's Eye 




External Goods and the Good Life 

Gerol Petruzella 5 

Liberal Scientists, ABMs, and the Nuclear Arms Race 

William Montgomery 25 


Two Sides of Snow 

Deborah Brown 44 


Jason Wandrei 47 


Jill Gilhreth 60 

Melanie Mowinski 61 

Mark D. Miller 62 

Barry Sternlieb 64 

Jeff McRae 66 

Michelle Gillett 67 

Hannah Fries 68 

Abbot Cutler 70 


Always on Behalf of the Weakest 

Seth Kershner 72 

New Brain Trends in Art 

Gregory Scheckler 80 

Academically Overstated 

Gregory Scheckler 83 


The Minds Eye 3 

In This Issue 

Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us 
dare to read, think, speak, and write. 

— John Adams 

This issue of The Mind's Eye includes a wealth of poetry, short stories, 
articles, and book reviews. The poetry is drawn from an event at PRESS: 
LetterPRESS as a Public Art Project. It was presented in two evenings of poetry 
readings during the fall of 20 1 ] that featured faculty writers from Massachusetts 
College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and writers from the Berkshires and southern 
Vermont areas. The PRESS gallery was founded by MCLA Assistant Professor 
of Art Melanie Mowinski with a 1 969 Vandercook proof press as its centerpiece. 
In this hybrid gallery, teaching and studio space, Mowinski brought back the 
private practice of the pressperson to her students and the public— creating a 
performance of printmaking, as well as a sense of community. 

Along with the poetry are two short stories about the happenstances of 
life by Deborah Brown and Jason Wandrei. Brown's story takes us to the inner 
life of a middle-aged woman who discovers that she is disoriented after leaving 
her baby for the first time. She finds herself helping an elderly senator, who is 
feeling another kind of confusion, Wandrei's story is about a family's struggle 
to survive a daughter's addiction to drugs, 

The articles take us in two different directions of thought; one from William 
Montgomery's "Liberal Scientists, ABMs, and the Nuclear Arms Race," which 
reminds us that the idea that nuclear weapons might lead to a dangerous arms 
race is older than nuclear weapons themselves- Gerol Petruzella's "External 
Goods and the Good Life" considers the connection between having external 
goods and leading a happy, human life as explored within Greek thought. 

Finally, Gregory Scheckler and Seth Kershner review recent books from 
their respective academic fields. Scheckler reviews New Brain Trends in Art, a 
Review of Neuroarthistory; From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Academi- 
cally Adrift; Limited Learning on College Campuses, while Kershner reviews three 
books on Giuliana Sgrena's Iraq War Diaries. 

Frances Jones-Sneed, Managing Editor 

4 'Ihe Mind's Eye 

External Good and the 
'Good Life 


At least as early as Herodotus' account of the encounter between So- 
lon and Croesus, the connection between having external goods 
and leading a happy human life is a live and important issue within 
Greek thought. In the Histories, the 6 1b -century Athenian statesman Solon re- 
portedly meets with the mythically wealthy Lydian king Croesus, and cautions 
him against counting himself happy on account of his vast riches: 

When [Solon I got there, Croesus entertained himinthepalace.and 
on the third or fourth day Croesus told his attendants to show Solon 
around his treasures, and they pointed out all those things that were 
great and blest. After Solon had seen everything and had thought 
about it, Croesus found the opportunity to say, "My Athenian guest, 
we have heard a lot about you because of your wisdom and of your 
wanderings, how as one who loves learning you have traveled much 
of the world for the sake of seeing it, so now 1 desire to ask you 
who is the most fortunate man you have seen." Croesus asked this 
question believing that he was the most fortunate of men ... Solon 

The Mind's Eye 5 

Gerol C. Pelruzelto 

replied, "To me you seem to be very rich and to be king of many 
people, but I cannot answer your question before 1 learn that you 
ended your life well. The very rich man is not more fortunate than the 
man who has only his daily needs, unless he chances to end his life with 
all well. Many very rich men are unfortunate, many of moderate means 
are lucky. The man who is very rich but unfortunate surpasses the kicky 
man in only two ways, while the lucky surpasses the rich but unfortunate 
in many. The rich man is more capable of fulfilling his appetites and of 
bearing a great disaster that Ms upon him, and it is in these ways that 
he surpasses the other. 1 he lucky man is not so able to support disaster 
or appetite as is the rich man, but his luck keeps these things away from 
him, and he is free from deformity and disease, has no experience of 
evils, and has fine children and good looks, If besides all this he ends 
his life well, then he is the one whom you seek, the one worthy to be 
called fortunate. But refrain from calling him fortunate before he dies; 
call him lucky. It is impossible for one who is only human to obtain all 
these things at the same time, just as no land is self-sufficient in what 
it produces. Each country has one thing but lacks another; whichever 
has the most is the best. Just so no human being is self-sufficient; each 
person has one thing but lacks another. Whoever passes through life 
with the most and then dies agreeably is the one who, in my opinion, 

King, deserves to bear this name. It is necessary to see how the end 
of every affair turns out, for the god promises fortune to many people 
and then utterly ruins them" (Herodotus, Histories 1,30-32). 

Two distinct theses vie for our assent. On one hand, health, wealth, politi- 
cal advantage, and prosperity— all circumstances contingent upon chance- 
generally are accepted as inextricable parts of a fully human life. Indeed, the 
very terms we have come to use to translate the Greek eudaimunia' , 'flourish- 
ing* or 'well-being,' carry with them definitive overtones of completeness 2 , The 
person who flourishes does so not merely in virtue of a narrowly applied set 

1 refrain from using systematically one English translation of the term eudaitnoma because 
of the great danger of inadequate or incomplete translation. For the most part, I will use flourish- 
ing,' 'well-being 1 and 'happiness' relatively interchangeably for ease of reading when the context 
allows. In cases wherein fine distinctitins of meaning are of foremost concern for the discussion 
at hand, I will leave the term and its related forms untranslated. 

2 'Completeness,' telzidtes, is one of the important characteristics of happiness in the ancient 
tradition as well, hence the contemporary emphasis. Chapter 4 will provide in-depth consider- 
ation of this term and its consequences. 

6 The Mind's Eye 

Gerol C. Petruzdla 

of behaviors or states, but rather precisely insofar as, in a wide range of areas 
of living and conduct— the intellectual, the moral, the physical, the social, the 
technical, the spiritual— he exhibits an overarching, all -encompassing state of 
excellence that transcends any one of these individually. This is the ideal most 
explicitly expressed in Aristotle's concept of the unity of the virtues, and it is 
certainly compatible with, if not an explicit doctrine within, other philoso- 
phers' systems of thought. 

On the other hand, beginning with Socrates' investigations linking, and 
even identifyi ng, happiness and virtue with knowledge throughout Plato's 'So- 
cratic' dialogues, a foundational tenet of the ethical tradition is the premise 
that achieving happiness is within the control of the individual human agent. 
It would be incomprehensible for the world to be ordered in such a way that 
the best kind of life should be inaccessible to our human efforts, or that we 
should be held morally responsible for accomplishments or failings which re- 
sult from circumstances beyond our control. Aristotle expresses this insight 
when he says that "all who are not maimed as regards excellence may win it by 
a certain kind of study and care" {ENi.% 1099bl8-19). 

f fhe way in which a philosopher attempts to resolve the tension between 
these two, deeply intuitive ethical insights has a major impact on the direction 
of his ethics as a whole. Many contemporary and current issues in the study 
of ancient Greek ethics, epistemology and philosophy of mind are squarely 
grounded in interpreting the connection between prosperity, virtuous char- 
acter, knowledge and the 'good life,' eudaimonia, generally; for example, the 
debate between intellectualistn and inclusivism in Aristotle's ethics, or inves- 

Beyond resolving an intriguing puzzle of interest to historians of philoso- 
phy, however, what is the need for such a unified account of external goods? 
Contemporary ethics is the philosophic discipline concerned with both de- 
scribing and prescribing human actions and modes of living, offering rational 
and pragmatic guidance for our interactions with each other on a daily basis. 
In this context, should the ethicist, concerned with relevantly engaging the 
lives of students, economists, doctors, soldiers and merchants, care about the 
ancients' thoughts on chance, virtue and flourishing? Yes, for several impor- 
tant and related reasons. One of the most urgent issues facing contemporary 
ethics is that which confronts philosophy generally: discovering and describ- 
ing its role and relevance in our contemporary world of science, cultures and 
value systems of all kinds vying for attention in the 'marketplace of ideas.' As 

The Mind's Eye 7 

Gerd C. Petruzelia 

philosophers, we find traditional assumptions and expectations insufficient to 
validate our projects; long-established pillars of the philosophical community 
and investigation are found to be presumptions grounded, at least in practice, 
in specific cultural and historical factors, few of which can make legitimate 
claims on our assent, absent rigorous supporting research in the wide— and 
ever- widening— world of knowledge beyond the borders of the Western ana- 
lytic tradition. Especially in ethics, the branch of philosophy most particularly 
committed to bridging the gap between theory and practice, the conscien- 
tious philosopher can no longer — if indeed he ever could — rest content with 
the presumption that the complexities of human interactions, on the local 
and national scales, are somehow usefully explicable by a theory that takes 
into account only those factors within the conscious control of the individual 
human agents involved. Discoveries in various fields of study force us to rec- 
ognize a vast array of factors which we have barely begun to recognize, let 
alone control, yet which are undeniably efficient causes in some of the most 
immediate and fundamental aspects of our lives: 

• psychology (with its discoveries about how pre-conscious, uncon- 
scious and non-rational factors influence decision- making and 
character in even the most reflective and critical agents) 

• economics (where we see potent forces impacting the availability 
of the basic prerequisites for human biological existence for huge 
segments of the world's population — abstract market pressures 
traceable to no conscious agent, but rather explicable via math- 
ematical models that represent the ebb and flow of currency and 

• sociology (investigating the very real ways in which social groups- 
religious communities, governments, corporations — must be ac- 
knowledged as on par with human individuals in terms of agency, 
and whose actions, motivations and intentions often are irreduc- 
ible to those of their component persons) 

We may well be disinclined to admit that this messy and complex picture 
truly represents our proper field of study. Yet it would be disingenuous to 
avoid confronting the relevance of these factors by clinging to the claim that 
what is outside of our control is thereby removed from the realm of our ethi- 
cal responsibility. Given such a world as ours, with a multitude of enormously 

8 The Mind's Eye 

Gerol C. Petruzella 

efficient impersonal forces of our own making, and given the great capac- 
ity for harm we have built up through constructing our systems of abstract 
agency, to endorse any abdication of personal responsibility would represent 
the antithesis of the ethical project, if not an enormous crime. Besides, we 
must take care not to construct a false dilemma: the addition of so many fac- 
tors influencing our lives has by no means verified the determinist thesis. We 
still enjoy an incredible range in which to exercise our individual free will and 
consciously make choices for certain reasons, with certain intentions, with 
certain motivations, in spite of certain consequences; and these decisions, in- 
fluenced though they are by such a host of external circumstances, are still 
our own moral choices. They are properly evaluable as such, and the ethical 
project is still the best way we have to provide the rational human agent with 
reliable guidance to live justly and fairly. 

We can now see how these considerations support the project of inter- 
preting the connections between external prosperity, virtue, knowledge and 
eudaimonia. The ancients generally accept the claim that, on the one hand, 
eudaimonia is something within our power to achieve, regardless of our cir- 
cumstances. On the other hand, they also recognize that certain common ex- 
ternal goods — physical health, education, social standing — frequently are 
present or absent due to circumstances that are a fortiori beyond our control. 
5f we consider it necessary to avoid the charge of elitism, any acceptable eudai - 
monistic theory must find a way to allow more than a privileged minority to 
attain eudaimonia, since few individuals, if any, are completely furnished with 
all requisite external goods. Still, such a project must carefully balance the 
influences of chance events with the roles of virtuous character and knowl- 
edge, both dependent upon education, in achieving eudaimonia. There is an 
evident and useful parallel between the problem framed by the ancient eudai - 
monists— explaining the influence of chance and the role of moral education 
in achieving happiness— and that facing contemporary ethicists— exploring 
the extent of the influence of uncontrolled factors over our moral decision- 
making as compared with the exercise of our rational, morally informed free 
will. I am inclined to press the strong claim that these are in fact the same 
issue, simply dressed in different terminology; but one need not go so far to 
recognize the value of exploring this connection. The parallel structure of the 
two issues provides a legitimate basis for investigating the history and conse- 
quences of the one, with the hope of discovering insights relevantly applicable 
to the other. Once we have discovered a coherent basis for the ancients' way 

The Mind's Eye 9 

Geroi C. Petruzella 

of dealing with chance, virtue and happiness, we can reasonably hope to find 
interesting and useful things to say about these relationships in the context of 
contemporary approaches to these issues. 3 

Despite the critical significance of this issue for the development of eu- 
daimonislic ethics, to date scholarship on the topic of external goods has been 
piecemeal, parceled out and investigated according to individual figure or 
philosophic tradition; there has been no comprehensive analysis. As a result, 
the contemporary discourse in virtue ethics lacks a coherent treatment of the 
connections— developments, refinements, rejections, responses— between 
successive philosophers* thoughts on external goods and eudaimonia. The 
fi rst task of the present work will be to present and develop such an historical 
analysis of the treatment of external goods in the thought of four central fig- 
ures and traditions of ancient Greek philosophy: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and 
the Stoics. Each of these traditions addresses the question of external goods, 
and its role in giving an account of the good life, in a manner uniquely its own; 
yet also is responsive to the broader milieu of the philosophic community and 
history it inherits. Following upon this exegesis, the final goal of this project 
will present and explore my own analysis of external goods and their role in 
the constitution of eudaimonia. 


The Socrates we know is, of course, primarily a literary construction, al- 
most a fictional charade r, so little do we know of Socrates the historical man. 1 
Since our account of his philosophy is at best second -hand, preserved primar- 
ily in the Platonic dialogues, wherein it is used by Plato for his own purposes, 
we cannot make such bold claims about his thought as we can about other 
philosophers whose work has survived through a more direct manuscript 
tradition. Nevertheless, it may be less important philosophically (though cer- 
tainly of interest historically) to reconstruct the positions of the historical 

' I am certainly not the first to operate under this presumption. Tile tradition of explicitly 
mining the ancients' thoughts, and specifically their eudaimonism. for relevant insights into 
contemporary ethics is long and well-founded. For a representative sample, cf. H. Sturt [I903). 
'Happiness', International Journal of Ethics 1 3.2, pp. 207-221; J. Momtt Jr. (1938). "The Pursuit of 
Human Happiness'. Ethics 4y. l.pp 1-17, D.A.Lloyd Thomas (1968). 'Happiness'. Ihe Philosophical 
Quarterly [8.71, pp. 97-113; J. Kekes (1982). 'Happiness'. Mind 91.363, pp. 358-376; G. Harman 
(1983). 'Human Flourishing. Ethics, and Liberty,' Philosophy und Public Affairs 12.4. pp. 307-322. 

' See CP. Parker ( 1916) for his classic examination of the issues surrounding the discovery 
of the historical Socrates. 

10 The Minds Eye 

Geral C. Petruzdla 

Socrates— whatever those positions might have been— than to analyze and 
respond to the received understanding and interpretation of what we might 
call the'Socratk tradition.' This philosophical approach had a formative influ- 
ence on Western ethics, starting from Socrates' immediate successors through 
late antique and mediaeval philosophy, and even up to the scholarship of the 
modern period. 

One thing that we can derive with reasonable confidence about the So- 
cratic ethics is the claim that wisdom, virtue and happiness share an essential 
identity. Arguments for this claim are found in several of Plato's dialogues 
(Philebus, Theaetetus, Republic), and particularly in the Euthydemus and 
Meno. Here Socrates maintains both that people take good fortune (eutuchia) 
to be "the greatest of the goods," and that wisdom (sophia) can be identified 
with good fortune because it makes people more fortunate (279c7-8; 279d6). 
The reason for this is because wisdom never makes a mistake "but must nec- 
essarily do right and be lucky— otherwise she would no longer be wisdom" 
(280a7-8). Inasmuch as knowledge rules and rightly conducts action, it pro- 
vides people with good fortune and well-doing (eupmgia) (281b). The com- 
monly held thesis that we do well through having many goods might then be 
true on one important condition: what people usually call 'goods'— includ- 
ing moral virtues, such as justice, temperance and courage— are not goods in 
themselves, but count as goods if and only if practical wisdom {phronesk) and 
wisdom (sophia) rule over them (Euthydemus 281a8-e)}, We are not happy 
by the mere presence of things such as wealth or beauty (Meno 87e-88a), be- 
cause such things can harm us if not guided by sophia. Similarly, if one takes 
away knowledge from crafts, such as medicine or shoemaking, no craft can 
be performed rightly: medicine cannot produce health, nor can shoemaking 
produce shoes, nor can the pilot's craft prevent loss of life at sea (Charmides 
174c-d). The right use of these goods (wealth, beauty) and crafts (medicine, 
shoemaking, piloting) benefits us, and their wrong use harms us (Meno 88a- 
b); knowledge is what guarantees their right use. This distinction can be ap- 
plied to the moral virtues, as well. If we suppose that a moral good, such as 
courage, is a certain kind of recklessness or boldness, and that, accordingly, 
it is not accompanied by wisdom, it can indeed harm us. If we want to de- 
fend the thesis that moral virtues are necessarily beneficial components of the 
happy life, they must somehow be forms of wisdom, since "all the qualities of 
the soul are in themselves neither beneficial nor harmful," but when directed 
by wisdom or folly they become beneficial or harmful (Meno 88c-d). 

Gerol C. Petruzelia 

The Socratic thesis outlined above not only makes positive claims about 
wisdom and happiness, however; it equally clearly argues that the standard 
complement of 'goods' share in the happy life only derivatively, if at all. The 
premise that wealth, health, beauty, strength, courage, generosity and the rest 
of the aretai are completely neutral with respect to value for our lives is of 
course appropriated and developed by the Stoics as their central doctrine of 
'indrfferents.' Our investigation into Socrates' conception of happiness will 
need to explore the origin and development of this claim, as well as the crite- 
ria of harm and benefit to which he appeals in order to justify it. Once we have 
done this, we will have the basis for evaluating the Socratic position in relation 
to later traditions, both concurring with and dissenting from his position. 


Any conscientious commentator on Plato will have to deal with the is- 
sue of organizing his works: whether the Platonic corpus can convincingly 
be interpreted chronologically, illustrating a development of Plato's thought 
from a derivative disciple of Socrates' doctrines to a fully mature philosopher 
presenting his own theories; 5 or whether we must, as John Cooper convinc- 
ingly argues, suspend definitive judgments about the relative composition of 
the various works and, as he puts it, 

relegate thoughts about chronology to the secondary position they 
deserve and to concentrate on the literary and philosophical con- 
tent of the works, taken on their own and in relation to the others. 
...chronological hypotheses must not preclude the independent 
interpretation and evaluation of the philosophical arguments the 
dialogues contain; so far as possible, the individual texts must be 
allowed to speak for themselves (Cooper (ed.) (1997), pp. xiv-xv). 

Such eminent Plato scholars as C7regory Vlastos, Charles Kahn and Gail Fine 
have weighed in on the debate concerning the appropriate ordering ot the dia- 
logues. For our purposes, however, we can afford to set this issue aside as sec- 
ondary. No matter how one approaches the Platonic corpus, it is accepted that 
the Pkiiebus certainly is one of Plato's last works, and also is generally agreed 
to be the work that represents Plato's most mature positions on the question of 

5 See CM. Young's "Plato and Computer Dating" in C.CW. Taylor (ed.) (1994). Oxford Stud- 
ies in Ancient Philosophy XII (Oxford: Clarendon Press) for a survey of various stylomelric inves 
ligations i nto the relative dating of Plato's works, 

12 The Mind's Eye 

Gero/ C. Petruzella 

identifying the good human life, overall. Unlike the earlier 'Socratic' dialogues, 
the Phikbus portrays the character of Socrates not in a state of perpetual u> 
quiry and aparia, but rather propounding a definite set of views through the 
development of the conversation; Protarchus tells him "we should not take 
it that the aim of our meeting is universal confusion; if we cannot solve the 
problem, you must do it, for you promised" (Philebus 20a3-4), and Socrates 
proves more than willing to oblige him. 

Philebus, Socrates' first interlocutor, represents the position that pleasure 
constitutes the good for humans (though through most of the dialogue it is 
Protarchus who converses on behalf of this position, with Philebus contribut- 
ing occasional supporting comments). "Philebus holds that what is good for 
all creatures is to enjoy themselves, to be pleased and delighted, and whatever 
else goes together with that kind of thing" (Phikbus 1 lb3-4). On the other 
hand, Socrates is committed to defending the thesis that "not these, but know- 
ing, understanding, and remembering, and what belongs with them, right 
opinion and true calculations, are better than pleasure and more agreeable 
to all who can attain them; those who can, get the maximum benefit possible 
from having them" (Philebus Ilb6-c3). Given these initial competing posi- 
tions, Socrates gives the guiding structure of the inquiry: "each of us will be 
trying to prove some possession or state of the soul to be the one that can 
render life happy for all human beings" (Phikbus 1 ld3-4). 

The first section of the dialogue (1 la-20) sets up and takes us through sev- 
eral difficulties faced by both the proponents of pleasure and of reason before 
we legitimately can endorse one as being truly good for humans. But before 
the reader (or the discussants) can get too comfortable with a rehashing of the 
well-established conflict between pleasure and reason, Socrates introduces a 
novel course for the discussion to take. At 20b3, when the discussion has hit a 
seemingly insoluble knot, after an involved discussion of unity and plurality, 
limit and unlimitedness, Socrates interjects, as a divinely-inspired memory, "a 
doctrine that once upon a time 1 heard in a dream— or perhaps I was awake- 
that 1 remember now, concerning pleasure and knowledge, that neither of the 
two is the good, but that there is some third thing which is different from and 
superior to both of them." Since, if we can identify some third item other than 
reason or pleasure as being identical with the good, it makes moot the project 
of pinning down the precise characteristics of pleasure (which had led to the 
previous difficulties), since it would be disqualified from its candidacy for the 

The Minds Eye 13 

Gerol C. Pctruzdla 

With this tangle of metaphysics safely bypassed, the main discussion of 
the identity of the human good is free to continue. Socrates and Protarchus 
first come to agree on some characteristics of whatever turns out to be the 
good: it "is necessarily bound to be perfect {tekios)" {Philebus 20dl)— and in 
fact "the most perfect thing of all" according to the enthusiastic Protarchus 
— and is 'sufficient' (hikanos): in setting up a fair comparison between the life 
of pleasure and the life of reason. Socrates reminds us that "if either of the two 
is the good, then it must have no need of anything in addition. But if one or 
the other should turn out to be lacking anything, then this can definitely no 
longer be the real good we are looking for" {Philebus 20e5-6). 

The centrally interesting feature of this dialogue is precisely Plato's char- 
acterization of the best human life as a "mixture" or "combination" of reason 
and pleasure. Just as one living the life of pure, unadulterated pleasure "would 
thus not live a human life but the life of a mollusk" (21c), so, too, the life of 
pure reason is equally not the good life, "since otherwise it would be sufficient, 
perfect, and worthy of choice for any of the plants and animals that can sus- 
tain [it], throughout their lifetime" (22b). The exact character of this "mixture" 
is investigated in some depth as the dialogue progresses; however, the salient 
point to note here is the definite non-intelleetualist consequences of Plato's 
position. It is frequently emphasized that Plato, following Socrates, identifies 
virtue and the good with knowledge; it is not as frequently noted that he does 
not thereby mean to devalue applied knowledge or science. When discussing 
the method of mixing knowledge and pleasure together in the well-balanced 
life, Socrates asks Protarchus which sciences should be included in the mix— 
the purest and truest only, or some of the others as well: 

Soc. [Olne kind [of science] deals with a subject matter that comes 
to be and perishes (til gignomena kai apoilumena), the other is con- 
cerned with what is free of that, the eternal and self-same (hosautos 
onta aei). Since we made truth our criterion, the latter kind appeared 
to be the truer one. ... If we took from each sort the segments that 
possess most truth and mixed them together, would this mixture 
provide us with the most desirable life (ton agapetotaton bion), or 
would we also need less -true ones? Prot. We should 
seems to me. Soc. Suppose, then, there is a person who understands 
what justice itself is and ... all the rest of what there is. ... Will he 
be sufficiently versed in science if he knows the definition of the 

14 The Minds Eye 

Gerol C. Pctruzeila 

circle and of the divine sphere itself but cannot recognize the hu- 
man sphere? Prot. We would find ourselves in a rather ridiculous 
(geloian) position if we were confined entirely to those divine kinds 
of knowledge (en tais theiais ... epistemais), Socrates! Soc. But how 
about music: Ought we also to mix in the kind of which we said a 
little earlier that it is full of lucky hits and imitation (stochaseos te 
km mimiseos) but lacks purity {katharatetos mdeOifi Prot. It seems 
necessary to me, if in fact our life is supposed to be at least some 
sort of life (eiper ge hltnon ho bias estai kai hoposaun pate bios) 
(Phikbus 62bz4-5). 

The answer agreed upon by Socrates and Protarchus is the broader alternative: 
the best human life needs even the applied sciences, those fields of knowledge 
whose objects are the imperfect, impermanent products of generation, and 
even the sorts of pursuits that involve chance, if our life is to be a meaningfully 
lived experience. 6 


Although Aristotle never presents a unified account of external goods in 
the EN, there is evidence that he understood the need for such an account. In 
some passages, Aristotle explicitly argues that the exercise of at least certain 
virtuous actions requires externa! goods (MM ii.8, 1207bl6); while elsewhere, 
he equally clearly maintains that it would be "too defective" for the highest hu- 
man good to be left to chance (tuche) (UN i.9, 1099b24). Since few individuals 
are completely furnished with all requisite external goods, any acceptable eu- 
daimonistic theory must allow more than the elite few to attain eudaitnonia, 
in spite of their lack of external goods. 

In Book i of the Nkotnachean Ethics, Aristotle identifies certain essential 
features of happiness: eudaitnonia is "an activity of soul.. .in accordance with... 
the best and most tekios excellence" (EN i.7, I098al6); it is "living well and 

* Although the predominant trend in Platonic commentary has been toward an intellectual - 
ist interpretation, note often is taken, even by inteuectualist commentators, of the necessity to 
acknowledge a tension here, albeit usually as a preliminary to explaining it away Cf. e.g. K.C. 
Lodge (1924), pp. 488-9:"We have, then, in Plato's thought, two strata [idealism and pragmatism] 
which are logically incompatible. ... A study of the Dialogues shows convincingly that in Plato's 
own thinking the two standpoints.. .are combined, and their combination is present in his most 
fundamental conceptions [e.g. the philosopher-king]. ... The only satisfactory way out of this 
difficulty would be to insist that the complete interpenetration of Idea and action-systems rep- 
resents the highest human life." Lodge, of course, claims that such a 'complete inlerpenetration" 
fails on logical grounds as a viable altexnative. 

The Mind's Eye 15 

Cerol C. Petruzella 

doing well" in general {EN i.8, 1098b21). It is "tekion [kai] autarkes" (EN i.7, 
1097b20), and "telos kai teieion...pantei pantos" (EN i.10, 1101al8); it must 
be"ef! if en bioi teleiai" (EN i.7, 1098al8); we consider it "thoroughly estab- 
lished and not at all changeable" (EN LIU, 1 100b3); changes after one's death, 
even though they can affect one's eudaimonia to a degree, are never enough 
to reverse it {EN i.ll, 1 fOibS). The permanence of eudaimonia ensures that 
"that which is sought will belong to the eudaimon, and he will be such [i.e., 
eudaimon] throughout his life" (HVi.10, HOOblS). All of these descriptions, 
which emphasize the nature of eudaimonia as tekion, or complete, create a 
picture of eudaimonia as free of the influence of chance circumstances. The 
individual who is properly brought up has the appropriate disposition and 
thereby chooses to act in accordance with virtue, actually acts so, and desires 
and enjoys acting so— this person will enjoy the best and most excellent sort 
of life. He will not be subject to conflicts of desires, as are those who pursue 
various externa] goods (EN i.8, 1099al2), but instead will aim at and achieve 
those goods which are not only pleasant to himself, but pleasant by nature: 
"the life of these [those who are lovers of excellence] does not need pleasure 
as a sort of ornament, but has pleasure within itself" (IN i.8, 1099al5). 

This conception of eudaimonia as self-sufficient seems to be compatible 
with another account Aristotle gives in EN i chapters 8 and 1 2. Here, Aristo- 
tle emphasizes that the potentiality or state (dunatnis), the simple possession 
(ktesis) of virtue, is not sufficient to constitute eudaimonia (1098b32-1099a5, 
U01bl0-1102a4). Rather, eudaimonia is the activity of soul according to 
complete excellence. Someone who possesses the potentialities of certain vir- 
tues but does not actively express them, such as, in Aristotle's own examples, 
someone asleep, or a spectator at the Olympic Games, cannot truly be said to 
be eudaimon. However, a consequence of this stipulation is that at least some 
minimal external goods become necessary for the exercise of some virtues: 
for example, the virtue of ge nerosity requires one to have property with which 
to be generous, friendship requires worthy friends, and courage requires cir- 
cumstances conducive to the expression of bravery (EN i.8, 1099a32 et seq.). 
In addition, there are certain minimal external goods with which everyone 
must be supplied in order even to have a life at all— dependable food, shelter, 
and so on: without these being adequately provided, it will not be possible to 
achieve eudaimonia. And finally, as noted both here (1097bll et al.) and in 
the Politics (Pol i.7, 1253a2), man is a zoion politikon by nature; and as such, 
a complete human life cannot be limited to the individual, but must include 

16 The Minds Eye 

Geral C. Petruzella 

his own immediate circumstances; "parents and children and wife and alto- 
gether friends and fellow-citizens" (EN i.7, 1097bl0). This necessary connec- 
tion of the individual's g 00 d with his family and peers directly informs the 
discussion in Chapter 10, where it is examined whether and to what extent 
one's eudaimonia is affected by the character anddeedsofone's ancestors and 
descendants. All of these considerations suggest— indeed, require— an under- 
standing of eudaimonia that extends beyond one's own character or virtues. 
What makes this understanding problematic is that it seems incompatible 
with Aristotle's initial characterization of eudaimonia as stable, permanent, 
or somehow insulated from changeable circumstance. As Heinaman notes, 
self-sufficiency is a formal requirement of eudaimonia for Aristotle, both in 
Book i and in Bookx (1097b7 ff., L176b5). At 1097bl4-15, the self-sufficient 
(to aularkes) is defined as "that which alone makes life desirable and lacking 
nothing." If eudaimonia is truly self-sufficient, it is unclear how it can be lack- 
ing in any respect, according to the above definition. Yet it is apparenl that 
eudaimonia by itself, when we understand it as Aristotle defines it, "activity 
of soul in conformity with virtue," leaves out many items which make our life 


Commentators have made much of the apparent similarities between the 
way the Stoics account for and describe the good human life and the descrip- 
tion offered by Plato's Socrates. And indeed, there is a great deal of support 
one can adduce to a thesis identifying strong ties between the two traditions. 
Compare Socrates' decision exclusively to study ethics, leaving off his initial 
forays into metaphysics and other philosophical fields, with Chrysippus' ob- 
servation, relayed by Plutarch: "For the theory of good and bad things must be 
attached to these, since there is no other starting-point or reference for them 
that is better, and physical speculation is to be adopted for no other purpose 
than for the differentiation of good and bad things' (On Stoic self-contradic- 
tions 1035d). Again, compare the central Socratic thesrs— that knowledge, 
full and complete, is sufficient for right action— with the basically identical, 
if much more finely developed, tenet of Stoicism that virtue is "a certain char- 
acter and power of the soul's commanding- faculty, engendered by reason, or 
rather, a character which is itself consistent, firm, and unchangeable reason" 
(Plutarch, On moral virtue 44fd). 

The Mind's Eye 17 

Gerol C. Petruzella 

The Stoics begin with a definition of the good as, "that whose peculiar 
property is that it is always beneficial." After explaining their notion of benefit 
in terms of perfect proper functions, they address the question: what sorts of 
things meet the criterion of being good, that is, being always and only benefi- 
cial? In perhaps the locus dassicus of Stoic doctrine on the topic of the good, 
Diogenes Laertius writes the following to explain why certain items common- 
ly held to be goods, such as wealth or bodily health, do not in fact qualify as 

For just as heating, not chilling, is the peculiar characteristic [icfion] 
of what is hot, so too benefiting, not harming, is the peculiar charac- 
teristic of what is good. ,., Furthermore they say: that which can be 
used well and badly is not something good (Diogenes Laertius 7.103). 

It is the fact that health, wealth and such things are capable of both ben- 
efiling and harming that disqualifies them from the class of goods. I wish 
to bring attention to Diogenes' description of that which is essentially and 
peculiarly characteristic of any good thing, namely what is elsewhere in Sto- 
ic literature called 'firmness' or 'fixity': it is not simply that one can be or is 
occasionally benefited by some state of affairs — if it were, the class of goods 
would be enormous, and would indeed include such external contingencies 
as health, property, social standing, and the like; but rather, the good is always 
and only beneficial, and nothing that is not always and only beneficial is good. 

'I his account must be supplemented with some further explanation of 
exactly what 'benefiting' entails. On this point, we find very little significant 
disputation or doctrinal variation among the Stoics; the core explanation of 
benefit always is given in terms of harmony or accordance with nature and 
right reason:"[S]ome proper functions are perfect, and. ..these are also called 
right actions" (Stobaeus 2.86,4); "since reason, by way of a more perfect man- 
agement, has been bestowed on rational beings, to live correctly in accordance 
with reason comes to be natural for them" (Diogenes Laertius 7.86). A com- 
plete understanding of the Stoics' conception of the connection between na- 
ture and reason must include a familiarity with their naturalistic presupposi- 
tions about the origin of ethical value. By observing the natural processes and 
behaviors of plants, non-human animals and infants, Stoics perceived that 
living things seem intrinsically to possess the impulse to preserve themselves 
and their particular constitution. From this basis, they conclude that nature, 
since it is responsible for the impulses of living things, must itself be operating 

18 The Minds Eye 

Gerol C. Pctruzella 

according to the principles of rationality which we recognize as characterizing 
the natural development of organisms. This picture of a rationally active na- 
ture or universe is what lies behind the Stoic association of nature, reason and 
the foundation of ethical action. 

Once we have gotten clear what the Stoics mean by the good (that which 
always and only benefits) and by benefit (that which is in accordance with 
nature and reason), it still remains to be determined what sorts of things meet 
their criteria to be considered good. A clear understanding of what goods 
there are is necessary for answering the question: how can we live a happy 
life? Aristotle notes thai there is universal agreement that the happy life is that 
in which one does well (eu pmttein) [EN 14 1095al6-18). And yet, there is just 
as much conflict over the specific content of the notion of happiness or what 
constitutes it as there is agreement over it in general terms, The Stoics took it 
as a central concern of their ethics to offer an account of what things count as 
good or goods, and in what ways these things constitute the final end of ac- 
tion, that is, achieving happiness. 

The Stoic criteria for the good have been made clear. Let us see what 
things meet them. We already can see that many items which are commonly 
believed to be goods are, on these criteria, not really goods at all: "life, health, 
pleasure, beauty, strength, wealth, reputation, noble birth.. .are not good but 
indifferents of the species 'preferred'" (Diogenes Laertius 7.102). These things 
that appear to (and sometimes do, in fact,) benefit us, and thereby seem wor- 
thy to be considered goods, fail to qualify as truly good precisely because each 
of them is capable of producing both benefit and harm— thus falling short of 
the "always and only" standard, which essentially characterizes the good. Even 
though possessing great wealth, for example, does sometimes benefit one, it is 
easy to conceive of— or even point to historical examples of— wealth resulting 
in harm to its possessor. This variability is characteristic of all these so-called 
external goods, and in fact can be extended to any condition or state of affai rs 
subject to definite description. Let me attempt to make clearer what I mean 
by this. Suppose we decide that some item on the list of external goods is in 
fact truly a good, whose possession results always and only in benefit to our- 
selves and, in general, the state of the world is better when we possess it. Even 
further, suppose that, all things being equal, we are correct, and anyone who 
possesses this external good is indeed always and only benefited by it, and the 
world at large also is so benefited. But imagine now that we fall into the power 
of a corrupt monarch; and that this monarch decides to effect great evils upon 

The Mind's Bye 19 

Gerol C Petruzella 

the world by conscripting into his army all persons with this external good. 
(We are assuming that he does in fact have the power to do as he intends.) 
Surely in such a case, it would be better overall if there were no, or at least few, 
people capable of conscription into the tyrant's army, i.e., people who possess 
this externa] good. Precisely this sort of thought experiment is given by Aristo 
of Chios, as reported by Sextus Empirkus in Against the Professors 1 1.64-7. 
The Stoics, then, were particularly sensitive to the impact contingent circum- 
stance has upon ethical action; in fact, this forms the basis of the well-known 
Stoic distinction between value and indifference. 


Having evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of each major school's 
treatment of the question, it is appropriate to investigate whether a satisfac- 
tory account of the relation of external goods to happiness must accommo- 
date both the insight that there is an essential connection between prosperity 
and the flourishing life, and that there is a real sense in which happiness is 
independent of any particular state of such prosperity. This apparent discrep- 
ancy is explicable through recognizing elements common among these four 
traditions. We can formulate an interpretation of eudaimonism that accom- 
modates important insights of each tradition, including: a) Aristotle's account 
of human nature, specifically the role of external goods as necessary precon- 
ditions for leading a human life; b) the consequence of Socratic and Stoic 
thought that external goods ("preferred indifferent") are necessary constitu- 
ents of moral action; c) Plato's and Aristotle's recognition that there must be 
a criterion for judging the degree of external prosperity compatible with a 
happy life. 

If it is true, as it seems to be, that there are certain necessary external cir- 
cumstances without which one cannot attain eudaimonia, 7 nevertheless this 
can be made compatible with the earlier accounts of the self-sufficiency of 
eudaimonia by situating this self-sufficiency within the context of the indi- 
vidual's given circumstances, While the presence of external goods may be 
required, it still is up to the virtuous individual to establish his relations to his 
circumstances, whatever they may be, in accordance with virtue, which is still 
entirely within his own power, 

1 propose that the minimum standard of external goods sufficient to 
the achievement of eudaimonia is precisely the minimum standard of a hu- 

Cf. MAI ii.8, 1207b 16: "happiness cannot exist apart from external goods." 
20 The Mind's Eye 

Gerol C. Petruzella 

man life, bios: food, shelter, and the rest of the things necessary for sustained 
physical existence, z6e\ and a family and community, which are necessary 
components of a particularly human life. Thus, as Aristotle puts it, "prosdeitai 
teuton ho anthmpinos bios," "the human life has need of these things" (EN 
i. 10, 1 100b9), even though doing well or nobly does not consist in them. It is 
true that these minimal external elements are subject to change, and one may 
be deprived of them due to disaster or other misfortune. But in such a case, 
on the ancients' commonly shared view of what constitutes a human life, the 
individual is no longer leading a "life" proper at all. The necessary conditions 
of a human life thus are identical with the necessary conditions of the life of 
the eudaimdn, so that any agent, living a truly human life, will necessarily meet 
the threshold standards for the exercise of eudaimonia? My account thus ad- 
dresses the potential problem an inclusivist account would face, namely, that 
achieving sufficient external goods to exercise the virtues, and hence attain 
eudaimonia, might be too difficult for more than an elite lew. This thesis sup- 
porting an interpretation of the ancient concept of eudaimania appears, then, 
to be germane, not only to resolving the historical puzzle of ancient eudai- 
monism, but also for supporting contemporary efforts to provide a firmer 
footing for a comprehensive, socially-based ethics in the democratic tradition. 

8 This is consistent with Aristotle's position that neither non-human entities, such as horses 
or other animals, nor even human non-agents, such as children, arc capable of participating in eu- 
dmmoma, because rhey cannot participate in energeias Mous, as he describes at EN i. 10, ]099b32 

et seq. 

The Mind's Eye 21 

Cewl C. Petruzella 

Primary Texts 

Armstrong, G.C. (tr.) (1988). Aristotle: Magna Mornlia (Cambridge: Harvard 

University Press Loeb Classical Library). 
Arnim, J. (ed.) (1905). Stokorum Veterum Fragments. 4 vols. (Leipzig; B,G. 


Bruns, I. (ed.) (1887). Atexandri aphrodisiensis praeter commentaria scripts 
minora, vol. 2. (Berlin: G. Reimer). 

Cooper, J.M. (ed.) (1 997). Plato: Compkte Works (Cambridge: Hackett Publish- 
ing Company). 

Fotinis, A. (tr.) (1979). The De Anima of Alexander of Aphrodisias: A Transla- 
tion and Commentary (Washington DC: University Press of America). 

Godley, A.D. (tr.) ( 1 920) . Herodotus' Histories (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press Loeb Classical Library). 

Hett, W.S. (tr.) (1995). Aristotle's On the Soul (Cambridge: Harvard University 

Press Loeb Classical Library). 
Long, A.A., and D.N. Sedley (eds.) (1987), The Hellenistic Philosophers. 2 vols. 

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). 

Rackham, H. (tr.) (1931). Cicero: Definibus bonorum et malorum (New York: 
G. P. Putnam's Sons), 

((r.) (1999). Aristotle: Nkomachean Ethics (Cambridge: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press Loeb Classical Library). 

Tredennick, H. (tr.) (1996). Aristotle: Metaphysics: Books I-IX (Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press Loeb Classical Library). 

Secondary Sources 

Ackrill, J.L. ( 1 974).'Aristotle on Eudaimonia, ' Proceedings of the liritish Academy 
60,339- 359. 

Adki ns, A.W.H. (1963).'Friendship and Self-Sufficiency in Homer and Aristotle,' 
The Classical Quarterly 13,30-45, 

Annas, J. (ed.) (1985). Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 3 (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press) 2. 

22 The Minds Eye 

Gerol C. Petruzclla 

(1993). The Morality of Happiness (Oxford: Oxford University Press). 

Bostock, D. (2000). Aristotle's Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press). 
Cooper, |,M. (1975). Reason and Human Good in Aristotle (Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press). 

Engstrom, S., and J. Whiting (eds.) (1996). Rethinking Duty and Happiness: 
Aristotle, the Stoics, and Kant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 

Frede, D. (1999). 'On the Stoic Conception of the Good," in K. Ierodiakonou 
(ed.) (1999). Topics in Stoic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press). 

deHeer.C. (1969). Makar, Eudaimon, Oibios, Eutuches (Amsterdam: Adolf M. 

Heinaman, R, (1988). 'Eudaimonia and Self-Sufficiency in the Nkomachean 
Ethics,' Phronesis 33,31-53. 

(1993).'Rationality,Eudaimonia and Kakodaimonia in Aristotle,' Phro- 
nesis 38, 31-56. 

Ierodiakonou, K. (ed.) (1999). Topics in Stoic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford 
University Press). 

Irwin, T.H. (1985). 'Permanent Happiness: Aristotle and Solon," Oxford Studies 
in Ancient Philosophy, 89-124. 

(1991).'The Structure of Aristotelian Happiness,' Ethics 101, 382-91. 

Kenny, A. (1992). Aristotle on the Perfect Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press). 

Kraut, R. ( 1989). Aristotle on the Human Good (Princeton: Princeton University 

Lawrence, G. (1993). 'Aristotle and the Ideal Life.' The Philosophical Review 
102.1, 1-34. 

Long, A.A. (1970/71).'The logical basis of Stoic ethics,' Proceedings of the Aris- 
totelian Society 71, 85-104. Repr. in Long (1996), 134-155. 

McDonald, M. (1978). Terms for Happiness in Euripides (Goettingen). 

Nussbaum, M.C. (1995). 'Aristotle on Human Nature and the Foundations of 

University Press). 

Reeve, C.D.C. (1992). Practices of Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press). 

The Mind's Eye 23 

Gerol C. Peiruzeila 

Roche, T.M.( 1988). 'Ergon and Eudaimonia in Nkomaeham Ethics I: Reconsid- 
ering the Intellectualist Interpretation,' journal of History of Philosophy 
26, 175-94. 

Rorty, A.O. (1978). 'The Place of Contemplation in Aristotle's Nicomachean 
Ethics,' Mind 87.347, 343-358. 

Taylor, C.C. W. (ed ) ( 1 994). Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy XII (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press). 

Vlastos, G. ( 1981 ).'Happiness and Virtue in Socrates' Moral Theory,' Proceedings 
of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 30, 181-312. 

White.N.P. (1995). 'Conflicting Parts of Happiness in Aristotle's Ethics,' Ethics 
105.2, 258-283. 

Yu, J. (2001). 'Aristotle on Eudaimonia: After Plato's Republic,' History of Phi- 
losophy Quarterly 18 (2), 11 5-138. 

24 The Mind's Eye 

Liberal Scientists, ABMs and 
the Nuclear Arms Race 


The idea that nuclear weapons might lead to a dangerous arms race is 
older than nuclear weapons themselves. In the fall of 1943, the physi- 
cist Niels Bohr, threatened by arrest in Nazi-occupied Denmark, was 
smuggled out of the country and flown to England. From England he traveled 
to the United States, where he began to serve as an advisor to the Manhattan 
project. He had been a revered teacher and colleague of many of the scientists 
in Los Alamos, who welcomed his support and cooperation with great enthu- 
siasm. At the same time, Bohr did not come to the U.S. simply to help build a 
bomb or talk about physics; he also arrived with a political agenda regarding 
the future of Europe, it already was clear that the defeat of Germany would 
create a new power dynamic in Europe with the U.S. and western European 
states confronting a victorious Soviet Union, itself an ominous dictatorship. 
Bohr hoped that the atomic bomb might provide a key to restraining and in- 
fluencing the Soviet State. If the U.S. and Britain were to inform the Soviets 
that they were building a bomb and offer to part icipate in an international sys- 

■Ihe Minds Eye 25 

William Montgomery 

tem of control over such weapons, it might encourage enough mutual trust 
and cooperation that they could avoid a new arms race following the war. 
Bohr assumed that Soviet physicists were quite capable of building their own 
bomb- As he saw it, the British and Americans could get more in return for 
their secret if they freely acknowledged what they were doing and avoided 
using it as a means of intimidation (Smith 1965: 5-8). 

As a European, Bohr was, of course, acutely aware of the immense arms 
race that had taken place among the European powers prior to World War 
I. France, Germany, Austria- Hungary and Russia each had invested heavily 
in building their armies. At the same time, Britain and Germany conduct- 
ed a particularly expensive race to construct new, modern battleships that 
would render all other fleets obsolete. During the interwar period, schol- 
ars and journalists often pointed to these military buildups as a major factor 
in the eventual outbreak of war in 1914. The influential peace movement 
that emerged in both Britain and the U.S. during the 1930s often blamed the 
arms race on munitions manufacturers who could exploit national rivalries 
to profit from government contracts (Wiltz 1963; Divine 1962: 65-68, 77-78). 
Bohr hoped that Britain and the U.S. might short circuit such a process by- 
managing the bomb with transparency and restraint, and he wanted to con- 
tact government leaders to explain his message. 

Bohr found it difficult to get an interview with government leaders; and 
although he finally met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in May 
1944, the two men shared little in the way of common experience. Bohr's 
proposal of international control over the bomb sounded a lot like the ideas 
of English peace advocates of the 1920s who had wanted Britain to scrap the 
provisions of the Versailles Treaty that placed limits on German armaments. 
By negotiating military parity with Germany and Russia, they hoped Britain 
could establish a basis for trust and cooperation that would assure collective 
security. Churchill, for his part, was convinced that only decisive military 
superiority over Germany could have prevented World War II, and he had 
little patience with a scheme to offer information about new weapons to an- 
other great power. Bohr travelled on to the U.S., where he established contact 
with President Roosevelt through Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. 
The President seemed receptive at first, but after talks with the British Prime 
Minister in Quebec, he accepted Churchill's negative verdict on Bohr and 
even arranged to have the scientist tailed by security agents (Lynch 1999: ch. 
3; Smith 1965: 8-13; Rhodes 1986: 525-538). 

26 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

Although Bohr failed in his effort to convert heads of state, the idea of 
peace through international cooperation still had its supporters. In March 
1945, as scientists were completing the last steps in preparing the bombs that 
would be used to attack Japan, scientists at the Manhattan Project's laboratory 
in Chicago began drafting a situ ilar argument in favor of sharing atomic infor- 
mation and the need for international control of the weapon. They were led 
by James Franck, a Nobel Pri ze-winni ng physical chemist who voluntarily had 
resigned his position at the University of Goettingen to protest the Nazi racial 
laws. The Franck Report, as the document became known, also called on the 
US. to stage a demonstration of the bomb to encourage a Japanese surrender 
without bloodshed, hike Bohr, Franck and his colleagues feared the possibil- 
ity of an arms race. They opened their report with a warning that there were 
no real secrets to building an atomic bomb since all informed physicists pos- 
sessed the necessary knowledge. Only international agreement could possibly 
prevent a ruinous competition for more weapons between the U.S. and Russia. 
However, an American attack on Japan would undermine trust between those 
two powers and make an agreement far more difficult to achieve. (Franck, et. 
at,) Franck and Arthur Compton, the director of the Chicago lab, presented 
the report to Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace, though Wallace had lit- 
tle influence on the course of military planning. Compton also explained the 
contents of the report to the scientists advising the intluential Interim Com- 
mittee, a body of industrialists appointed to help plan for postwar use of the 
bomb, again without effect (Smith 1965: 30-34,48-50). 

By the 1960s, U.S. scientists no longer had the optimistic faith in inter- 
national understanding that had motivated Bohr and Franck. The Cold War 
was an accepted reality, and many veterans of the Manhattan Project, along 
with their students and younger colleagues, willingly advised the government 
in its ideological struggle with the Soviet Union. However, even as scientists 
adopted a more militant political attitude, they remained skeptical about tech- 
nology. Having seen the power of the atomic bomb and the even more dev- 
astating power of the hydrogen bomb, they doubted if weapons alone could 
really guarantee American security. By 1960, both the U.S. and the Soviet 
Union were equipped not only with bombs and bombers, but with intercon- 
tinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), that reduced the time needed for an attack 
to as little as 30 minutes. Missiles deployed on submarines soon would reduce 
it even further. After 15 years of dramatic technological progress and the 
steady construction of new weapons, nobody was any safer than before: the 

The Mind's Eye 27 

WUham Montgomery 

threats were even closer, the warning times even shorter, and the power of the 
weapons far greater. The arms race had left both Americans and Soviets in an 
even more distressing position. 

Even before ICBMs were ever deployed, weapons experts in both the 
U.S. and the Soviet Union already were thinking about ways to counter their 
dangers. Their most obvious option was to use defensive weapons, antibal- 
Hstic missiles with their own nuclear armament that could blast incoming 
warheads in outer space or the upper atmosphere before they could strike 
the homeland. The Soviets were the first to deploy such missiles, which they 
located in bases around the city of Moscow. American military officers and 
weapons manufacturers came up with similar missiles and proposed to the 
government that we deploy them in much the same manner. However, in the 
U.S., some soldiers, scientists and officials doubted whether defensive mis- 
siles would really work. In part they believed that nuclear warheads were 
so powerful that no defensive measures could really prevail against them. A 
defense would have to be next to perfect to stop the attackers, for any fail- 
ure at all would expose the country to crushing destruction. Given such a 
matchup, the advantage always would lie with offensive forces. More broadly, 
though, the idea of defensive weapons did not really change the overall pat- 
tern of the arms race. No matter how an industrial nation chose to equip itself 
for protection, a determined counterpart with equivalent skills always could 
match its efforts. Fifteen years of experience seemed to show that continuing 
the arms race only would add to the suspicion, hostility and danger that had 
already accumulated, and even defensive weapons were no substitute for ef- 
fective agreements to limit nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, many Americans 
deeply mistrusted Soviet intentions and, before giving up on defensive mis- 
siles, they wanted to examine the option more closely. Their experience with 
offensive weapons might suggest that the arms race was a futile effort, but they 
still wanted a closer look at what defensive missiles could accomplish. 

It did not take long before faster missiles and improved radar greatly 
strengthened the case for defensive weapons. However, these innovations 
were offset by the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles 
( MIRVs), that gave the offense a powerful boost, too. It is easy to imagine that 
technical improvement in weapons might have drawn out the debate, extend- 
ing the arms race through yet another cycle. The Kennedy Administration 
had come into office enthusiastic about strengthening the nation's military 
forces. The Cuban Missile Crisis may have checked some of the original ea- 

28 The Minds Eye 

William Montgomery 

gerness for weapons acquisition, but it only had marginal influence on the 
question of defensive weapons. Following the death of President Kennedy 
and the succession of Lyndon Johnson, most defense and foreign policy of- 
ficials remained in office. Their decision in August 1964 to intervene directly 
in the Vietnam War did not seem related to defensive weapons, either. Nev- 
ertheless, the inability of the fohnson Administration to stabilize the South 
and fend off the communist armies from the North tried American patience. 
By the election year 1968, support for the war ebbed and trust in the nation's 
political and military leadership faded. Although engineers continued to im- 
prove both offensive and defensive weapons, politicians now had to make de- 
cisions in a radically different atmosphere, one in which military hardware no 
longer commanded unquestioning respect. 

During the Eisenhower Administration (1953-1960), the Army took a 
very favorable view toward defensive nuclear missiles. In response to what 
was thought to be a dangerous Soviet bomber force, the Army first built a 
system of conventionally armed ground-to-air missiles called Nike-Ajax, that 
guarded selected American cities and air bases. In 1957, the Army began to 
modify some of these batteries to accommodate the new Nike- Hercules, a 
solid-fueled, nuclear-tipped missile that promised to be far more effective in 
knocking down enemy bombers. The Army eventually built 1 23 batteries that 
protected 26 cities and 10 SAC bases. For a time, there may have been as many 
as 2,300 Nike-Hercules missiles deployed around the country. The installa- 
tions and their nuclear weapons were publicized in the local press, a docu- 
mentary film, and even the popular television show Lassie. The public seemed 
quite satisfied, and even though nuclear testing had become very controversial, 
there was little objection to the missile batteries (Bright 96-125). At the same 
time, the Air Force also was building an anti-aircraft missile called BOMARC. 
Designed to have a longer range and defend larger areas, BOMARC was less 
reliable than Nike-Hercules, and the Air Force deployed the missile only at a 
few bases. Still, it complemented the Army's weapon because it would provide 
defenders with two shots at some incoming planes (Bright 127-148). 

By 1957, when the Soviets placed their first Sputnik satellite in orbit, 
frightening Americans with the possibility of Soviet ballistic missiles, the 
Army was prepared with a new anti-ballistic missile, Nike-Zeus, that already 
had reached the development stage. Excluded from the race to develop an 
ICBM by Defense Secretary Charles Wilson, the Army was especially deter- 
mined to make Nike-Zeus the standard American weapon system against the 

The Mind's Eye 29 

William Montgomery 

threat of Soviet missiles (Yanarella 1977: 26-30). The Air Force had its own 
candidate for an anti-ballistic missile, which it called Wizard; but many Air 
Force officers always had doubted the effectiveness of air defense, thus Wizard 
did not have the same priority within the Air Force that Nike had within the 
Army, Since the Air Force was two years behind the Army in developing its 
ABM, in January 1958, Secretary of Defense Neii McElroy, Wilson s successor, 
authorized the Army to continue working on Nike-Zeus while he restricted 
the Air Force to working on the radar systems that would be needed to warn 
of incoming warheads and guide Nike-Zeus missiles to their targets. At the 
same time, though, he hesitated at the idea of actually deploying the system. 
Air Force critics pointed out that Nike-Zeus was not equipped to deal with 
decoys and other penetration aids that might accompany the Soviet reentry 
vehicles. In an actual attack, defensive radars could be fooled, rendering the 
entire effort pointless. To Air Force generals, Nike-Zeus looked like a Maginot 
Line, impressive in appearance but ineffective in practice; they preferred to 
devote funds to the Strategic Air Command and their own ICBMs (Yanarella 

McElroy did something else that had a big effect on the future of the Nike 
program. He created two new entities with authority over weapons research, 
the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and a director of defense re- 
search and engineering. Previously, secretaries of defense had relied primarily 
on the military services to provide them with advice on the development of 
new weapons. When the services disagreed, as was often the case, the sec- 
retary of defense had to decide the issue, as Wilson had in granting the Air 
Force control over strategic missiles, or as McElroy had in granting the Army 
control over anti-ballistic missiles. These decisions were difficult, though, be- 
cause the secretaries had no source of advice other than the competing servic- 
es themselves. The result might be duplication of effort since secretaries were 
reluctant to intervene in matters they understood only poorly. By creating 
these new agencies, staffed by civilian experts, McElroy strengthened the hand 
of the secretaries in dealing with the services. Increasingly, the Department of 
Defense began to function more like a large industrial corporation in which 
the man at the top determined policy and the services carried it out (Yanarella 
1977: 38-42). 

Even as McElroy acted, Pentagon technical specialists began chipping 
away at the concept of missile defense against ICBMs. A report drawn up in 
1958 suggested that missiles equipped with multiple warheads simply could 

30 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

overwhelm the defense by force of numbers. The Soviets had no such mis- 
siles at the time, but Pentagon experts were in the habit of planning for the 
future. They did not want to see the Country commit to weapon systems that 
might be vulnerable to technologies they already could foresee. In the case of 
ABMs, an attacker might use decoys, diverting the attention of defensive radar 
and overloading the system. He also might attack the radar that was intended 
to guide defensive missiles to their targets, and no one knew a way to shield 
radar that would not also render it ineffective. Even worse, the defensive mis- 
siles themselves might temporarily interfere with the radar when their mis- 
siles exploded at high altitude. Such explosions were known to release highly 
energetic electrons that might black out radar for several minutes. A second 
report, issued the following year by a panel of the Presidential Science Adviso- 
ry Committee, echoed these concerns, and thus stalled further consideration 
of defensive missiles by President Eisenhower (Kaplan 343-344). 

When John Kennedy took Office in January 1961, one of his most im- 
portant acts was to appoint Robert McNamara as secretary of defense. Only 
a few years had passed since Charles Wilson, the former president of Gen- 
eral Motors, had served as secretary of defense; now the former president of 
Ford assumed that task. Nevertheless, despite having a similar background in 
the automobile industry, McNamara adopted a different approach to his re- 
sponsibilities at the Defense Department. In the mid-'50s, Wilson had viewed 
himself largely as a budget manager who framed the financial limits and adju- 
dicated disagreements among the services according to the President's overall 
defense strategy. He was not ignorant of military affairs, but he generally left 
the planning initiative up to the generals. McNamara, dissatisfied by such a 
passive role, intended to intervene far more actively in Pentagon planning, 
especially when it came to providing new weapons systems. Furthermore, he 
was able to take full advantage of the bureaucratic structures created by McEl- 
roy's reforms. The secretary of defense now had a highly professional plan- 
ning staff of his own, independent from the staffs of the uniformed services, 
and McNamara quickly gave his civilian planners important new assignments 
(Yanarella 1977: 43-47). 

In Congress, supporters of missile defense urged the administration to 
submit a budget that would provide for a modest initial installation of the 
weapons. Defense industry trade publications gave the missile a sudden burst 
of publicity, and newspaper journalists got a nice tour of the Army's Pacific 
test site. However, McNamara was no more eager to act on Nike-Zeus than 

The Mindi Eye 31 

William Montgomery 

was his predecessor McElroy, and the administration budget included no 
funds to deploy it. In April, McNamara got a chance to explain to Congress 
that testing of the missile and its associated radars would not be complete 
before the end of the year. He recognized that the system might benefit the 
American deterrent and save American lives. At the same time, he repeated 
the now standard criticism that the system easily could be overwhelmed by 
sophisticated offensive forces and added a significant remark: "Finally, it is a 
very expensive system in relation to the degree of protection that it can fur- 
nish" (Yanarella 1977: 60-68. quotation on 68). 

McNamara qualified his remark, emphasizing that technical effective- 
ness, not cost, was the decisive factor in his decision. Yet cost did play a sig- 
nificant role in his thinking. This became clear in the testimony of physicist 
Herbert York, the director of defense research and engineering, one of the 
new civilian agencies within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. York ex- 
plained that Nike-Zeus could defend only a very small area. After spending 
billions of dollars, the Army would be able to protect only a few large cities. 
In addition, York thought the prospects for defending even these relatively 
small areas were not that good. The offense had too many advantages over the 
defense. In making this point, York knew he had the support of the Air Force. 
For the Strategic Air Command, the dominant branch of the Air Force, these 
advantages were a fundamental point of doctrine. The flyers believed in car- 
rying the fight to the enemy and destroying his bases. They were not opposed 
to defense in principle, but they insisted that, considering its limitations, it 
should not drain funds away from the installation of ICBMs, which was then 
in full swing (Yanarella 1977: 72-75). 

For a time, McNamara was able to fend off Congressional demands sim- 
ply by promising to improve the Nike-Zeus system. Nike-Zeus had the disad- 
vantage of being a rather slow missile. For this reason, it had to be fired long 
before the arrival of ICBM reentry vehicles in order to engage them in outer 
space. Destroying warheads in space is difficult, though, because they can be 
hidden behind a screen of chaff or distributed among light-weight decoys. To 
get around this problem, the Army began working on the much faster Sprint 
missile, which could afford to wait until enemy warheads began to reenter the 
atmosphere. Chaff and decoys would be slowed quickly by the atmosphere, al- 
lowing radar to identify the much heavier warheads as they plunged forward. 
In the meantime, Air Force contractors also had been making strides in radar 
technology. The mechanically aimed radar transmitters of Nike-Zeus had a 

32 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

hard time keeping up with fast-moving reentry vehicles and generally had to 
follow them one by one. However, the new phased array radar sat motion- 
less and directed its beams electronically, enabling it to keep up with multiple 
incoming vehicles at the same time. The new technology was quite expensive, 
but far more effective than the old. In the light of these developments, defense 
department planners completely lost their enthusiasm for the now obsolete 
Nike-Zeus, and persuaded McNamara to hold out for an improved system, 
now called Nike-X. Congressmen and Army generals accepted the argument 
for new technology and the need for further delay in constructing the system 
(Yanarella 1977: 82,85-86,90-94). 

In 1 964, a Pentagon report authored by Lieutenant General Glenn Kent, 
who served on the staff of the director of defense research and engineering, 
suggested a much broader argument against missile defense. Harold Brown, 
who succeeded York as director, had asked Kent to consider several alterna- 
tives for limiting damage to the U.S. in the case of nuclear war. Kent conclud- 
ed that none of the available alternatives looked very good. Offenses are in- 
herently cheaper than defenses. Any defense that one might construct could 
be overcome simply by building more offense— and at a lower cost. Thus, in 
an arms race between offense and defense, the offense enjoyed an unbeatable 
advantage. Fallout shelters fared the best, but neither the Eisenhower nor the 
Kennedy administrations had been able to persuade Congress to spend much 
money on them. Building ABMs, a much more expensive project, promised 
less protection. Kent's figures suggested that, even if one intended to protect 
only half of the nations industry, defensive spending would have to outweigh 
offensive spending by more than three to one. At higher levels of protec- 
tion, the ratio just got worse. American exertion simply would challenge the 
Soviets to construct more offensive missiles and would leave the U.S. more 
endangered than before, (Kaplan 320-325), 

When Kent proposed that inexpensive offensive weapons could over- 
whelm a defensive system, he already had a specific technology in mind, Mul- 
tiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs). Since the late 1950s, American 
scientists and engineers had been thinking about the possibility of defensive 
missiles and working toward a method to counteract them. Their plan was to 
arm each offensive missile with multiple warheads, each aimed at a separate 
target. This would allow them to put a vast number of warheads into the sky 
at a relatively low cost. No defense could hope to stop them all, and since they 
carried nuclear explosives, even a few of them could devastate a target. In 

The Mind's Eye 33 

William Montgomery 

the face of such warheads, defensive missiles seemed hardly worth the effort 
(Greenwood 68-69). The MIRV also had a second virtue relating to the prob- 
lem of Soviet ICBMs. The Kennedy Administration built and deployed 1,000 
Minutcman missiles, each one sheltered in an underground silo beneath a 
heavy steel and concrete cover. However, as the number of Soviet ICBMs 
began to grow, the Air Force, of course, wanted many more, enough to smash 
every Soviet airfield and missile silo, not to mention communications centers, 
industrial sites and army posts (the Navy would take care of submarine pens). 
Having just signed the Limited Test Ban Agreement, which brought a sense 
of relief to people around the world and dramatically improved U.S. — Soviet 
relations, Kennedy, and Johnson after him, had no desire to heat up the arms 
race by issuing purchase orders for more missiles. Kent s idea would allow the 
Air Force to cover the growing number of targets by employing MIRVs. They 
might be very sinister weapons, but they would attract less negative publicity 
than a big missile building program (Greenwood 69-72; Nolan 82-84). 

Kent's notion of an arms race involving interaction between the offense 
and the defense was rather different from the ideas developed by peace ad- 
vocates in the 1930s. They had been thinking of powerful monopolists like 
Du Pont, who allegedly encouraged the US. government to go to war in order 
to expand the sale of munitions. Kent's technocratic model of an arms race 
lacked the moral or political implications that had been important to the pac- 
ifists. For Kent, an arms race was an impersonal, mechanistic process that had 
little to do with human choice and a lot more to do with the kind of automatic 
control systems familiar to engineers and to industrial executives like McNa- 
mara. As secretary of defense, McNamara never would have employed the 
old-fashioned idea of an arms race as a result of conspiracy among arms man- 
ufacturers and governments. Whatever its historical validity in explaining the 
origins of World War J, the idea would have insult ed the very businessmen on 
whom he had to depend for equipping the armed forces in the Cold War. By 
contrast, Kent's very different concept of a technological race between offense 
and defense was nicely suited to McNamara's needs. Ominous in its security 
implications but harmless in its moral overtones, the idea offered McNamara 
an elegant argument against ABMs that he could safely employ in Congress 
without fear of alienating potential allies. In many ways it paralleled the ideas 
of the French legal scholar and theologian, (acques Ellul, whose new book The 
Technological Society first appeared in 1 964 and was translated into English in 
1967. Eflul's disapproving vision of technology as an automatic motor of hu- 

34 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

man social change sold widely, and although Ellul had little interest in nuclear 
weapons as such, the success of his book showed that arguments like those 
made by Kent enjoyed respect well beyond the Pentagon, 

In constructing his argument, McNamara could not use references to 
MIRVs in public; MIRVs still required considerable developmental work, and 
they remained a secret known only to generals and technical experts. How- 
ever, by 1964 some scientists began to make a public case against ABMs that 
stopped just short of Kent's position. In response to criticism of the recently 
signed Partial Test-Ban Treaty York and Jerome B. Wiesner placed an article in 
the October issue of Scientific American. The treaty forbade nuclear testing in 
the atmosphere, under water or in outer space, but opponents of the treaty had 
argued that more atmospheric testing was needed to improve America's ABM 
system. Wiesner, an MIT administrator who had chaired the 1 959 panel of the 
Presidential Science Advisor and who later served as Kennedy's science advi- 
sor, and York called the ABM a destabilizing weapon. They thought it would 
weaken the Soviet missile deterrent, forcing the Soviets to build even more 
ICBMs in order to keep up: At the same time, they insisted that the defense 
was unlikely to work very well since it only could protect a small area while 
the attacker could pick the time and place of the attack. If the target was a city, 
many people still could be killed by fallout, simply by aiming at a point up- 
wind. In effect, the authors tried to have it two ways, arguing that ABMs were 
both a threat and ineffective. However, their broader point was unmistakable. 
They pointed out that, since the invention of the atomic bomb, American 
power had grown enormously, while American security had actually declined. 
So far as Wiesner and York were concerned, it did not really matter whether 
ABMs worked or not; either way, Americans would be less secure. 

McNamara's caution about potentially destabilizing weapons was not just 
a response to theory. During the Cuban missile crisis, he and the President 
had to deal with the consequences of a weapon system that aroused serious 
resentment on the part of the Soviets and contributed to Nikita Khrushchev's 
ominous decision to introduce missiles into Cuba. Most Americans had taken 
little notice of the American decision to deploy Intermediate Range Ballis- 
tic Missiles (IRBMs) in Turkey and Italy in the early 1960s; however, these 
early missiles suffered from troubling deficiencies. Installed above ground 
on launchers and depending on liquid fuel that had to be pumped into them 
immediately before firing, they were vulnerable to attack not only from in- 
coming bombs and missiles, but even from nearby rifle fire. To an opponent, 

The Mind's Eye 35 

William Montgomery 

they looked like offensive weapons useful only for a first strike. Kennedy and 
McNamara both were aware of this problem and agreed to install the weapons 
only because they feared diplomatic embarrassment. When Khrushchev paid 
them back by sending equivalent missiles to Cuba, they reacted aggressively 
with a blockade of the island, which stopped the shipment of additional weap- 
ons but could not remove those already in place, In the end, Kennedy was 
obliged to arrange a secret deal to quietly remove the American missiles from 
Turkey and Italy a few months after the Soviet missiles left Cuba. A chastened 
McNamara had them cut up for salvage by the end of tire following April, only 
a year after their initial deployment (Nash 81-85,92-98, 141-143, 164-165). 

The IRBMs quickly were replaced by the much more secure Polaris subma- 
rines, which reassured the Soviets about American intentions. At this point, 
McNamara was in no mood to approve any more weapons that might simi- 
larly roil the arms race; however, a year later, the Soviet military began to in- 
stall an ABM system of their own around the city of Moscow. In November 
1964, they paraded the new ABM, nicknamed Galosh by American military 
officials, through the streets of the city. In the previous month, the Chinese 
had startled the world by exploding their first nuclear device, ignoring the 
Partial 'lest Ban Agreement recently signed by the Soviet Union, the U.S., and 
Britain. The Russian Galosh was a simple system like Nike-Zeus that lacked 
high speed rockets like Sprint, and the defense secretary did not regard it as 
a significant problem for the American forces. Still, these events created new 
pressure on the Defense Department to speed the development of Nike-X and 
commit themselves to put it into production (Yanarella 1977: 105-106, 114), 

The Chinese bomb sparked immediate concern among civilian research- 
ers in the Department of Defense. Although they had serious doubts about 
the value of a large ABM system directed against a Soviet attack, it occurred 
to them that a inore modest system could be quite effective against the much 
smaller attack they might expect from China. McNamara estimated that 
ABMs might reduce American losses from between six and twelve million 
to two million, or even none at all. They also would be useful in case a few 
missiles were launched by accident. However, since the nature of Chinese ar- 
mament was still uncertain, he was reluctant to begin construction on such 
a system right away. This was not a position he could maintain for long; by 
1966, the Air Force, concerned by the Soviet ABM system and encouraged by 
the successful firing of a Sprint missile, dropped its long-standing opposition 
to missile defense and joined the other services in advocating deployment. 

36 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

Not only were the united joint chiefs in favor of action, but support for the 
idea was also stronger than ever in Congress, and leading Pentagon research 
administrators like Brown in agreement, too. By November, the Soviets had 
completed their installation of Galosh missiles around Moscow, leaving Mc- 
Namara with few viable options (Yanarella 1977: 113-119). 

In the meantime, the continental air defense system began to deteriorate. 
In 1964, the Air Force began to cannibalize the BOM ARC missiles at its Ni- 
agara Falls base, expending them for training exercises. A year later, the Army 
began to close Nike-Hercules sites. Preoccupied by ICBMs and strapped by 
the growing costs of the Vietnam War, neither service regarded its anti-aircraft 
missiles as worth the bother. Except for a few bases in Florida, all the Army 
installations were gone by 1971 and the Air Force ones by 1972. Nobody saw 
anything wrong with these missiles: they just cost too much, and the money 
was needed for other things. The Air Force assigned responsibility for air de- 
fense to the Air National Guard, which continued to fly interceptors until the 
middle 1980s, the sole defense against a Soviet Bomber force now operating in 
the shadow of the red missiles (Bright 156-160; Bruce-Briggs 337 -339). 

The financial burden of the Vietnam War also weighed on the idea of 
ABMs. However, the Republican Party was threatening to make ABM deploy- 
ment a key issue in the 1968 elections, and Johnson knew that many Demo- 
crats also would be impatient at any challenge to American strategic domi- 
nance. To soothe domestic critics, he tried to negotiate an agreement with the 
Soviets to restrict any further deployment of ballistic missile defenses. How- 
ever, this attempt ran up against the long-standing Soviet faith in defensive 
weapons (Yanarella 1977: 182-183). In June 1967, when Johnson and McNa- 
mara made their case to Soviet Premier Aleksi Kosygin at their Glassboro, 
NJ, summit meeting, he was unwilling to continue the discussion. Although 
Soviet thinking about ABMs was in flux at that time, Kosygin did not give 
the Johnson Administration enough encouragement to forestall an American 
ABM effort (Garthoff 295-300). 

Bowing to the inevitable, McNamara went to San Francisco in Septem- 
ber, where he gave a speech,"The Dynamics of Nuclear Strategy," announcing 
that the U.S. would deploy a light ABM system to be known as Sentinel. He 
had not changed his thinking about ABMs. In fact, he discounted the value 
of Soviet ABMs while insisting that it would cost $40 billion and accomplish 
nothing to construct a heavy shield against Soviet ICBMs. However, he ex- 
pressed concern about political instability in China and the Chinese govern- 

The Minds Eye 17 

William Montgomery 

merit's hostility toward the U.S., and noted that, by the early 1970s, the Chi- 
nese would probably would have ICBMs. He thought that, for $5 billion, one 
could construct a light missile defense that would protect American cities 
from Chinese attack and perhaps offer some protection for American Min- 
uteman missiles from Soviet forces. In conclusion, McNamara insisted again 
that it would be folly to try to expand such a system to fend off the Soviets. 

With McNamara's blessing, Sentinel passed through Congress without 
serious opposition. McNamara might give lip service to the Chinese threat, 
but many senators and representatives still had their eyes on the Soviet Union, 
However, at this point, the lohnson Administration encountered an unex- 
pected surprise When Army engineers began to acquire land and begin test 
drilling in the suburbs of Seattle, Chicago and Boston, the inhabitants sud- 
denly erupted in protest. There had been no previous sign of active popular 
opposition to missile defense. Public opinion had seemed indifferent, or, if 
anything, mildly favorable toward the idea. Complaints by scientists about 
possible technical weaknesses in Sentinel or its capacity to spark a new round 
of nuclear missile construction made little impact on the average voter. Nev- 
ertheless, the arrival of soldiers and construction equipment at the very out- 
skirts of large cities sent a Shockwave through the population. Now the pos- 
sibility of accidents involving nuclear weapons and, perhaps the sense of what 
it meant to be a target in vast game of threat and counter threat, came home 
to people. The mounting failure of the Vietnam War already had sensitized 
them to arbitrary decisions by the military and the government. This ex- 
pensive and seemingly dangerous project right on their own doorsteps drove 
them to active opposition (Yanarella 1977: 146-147). 

The frustrations of the now unpopular Vietnam War soon brought the 
Johnson Administration to an inglorious end. McNamara resigned his office, 
and not long afterward Johnson announced that he would not run for reelec- 
tion. The Republican Richard Nixon won the 1 968 election and appointed the 
former Republican Congressman Melvin Laird as secretary of defense. Con- 
gressional critics of Sentinel, led by Albert Gore (D-TN), launched a commit- 
tee hearing in an effort to persuade the new administration to give up on the 
project. But again, the testimony of scientific opponents made litde impression 
on the Nixon Administration. The Administration introduced experts of their 
own who raised questions about the assumptions that anti-ABM scientists were 
making. In March, the new President responded to critics of the Sentinel sys- 
tem; he explained that defending the country against a full-scale Soviet attack was 

38 The Minds Eye 

William Montgomery 

technically beyond the capacity of the system designers. Therefore, he proposed 
a new plan called "Safeguard," which primarily was oriented toward protecting 
American missiles (Yanarella 1977: 143-145). 

Ever since the development of the MIRV, some American defense experts 
had worried about what might happen when the Soviets got their own MIRVs 
and placed them atop Soviet rockets, perhaps aboard the big new SS-9s that 
they had been deploying. If Soviet experts also could improve the accuracy 
of their warheads, they might be able to knock out an American Minuteman 
missile with a single warhead. As a result, they could destroy much of the 
Minuteman fleet in a first strike before American weapons could be fired. Al- 
though the US, still would retain bombers and Polaris missiles at sea, such a 
capability would cripple the American deterrent force and substantially limit 
American military and diplomatic leverage, 'the Safeguard plan was designed 
to counteract such a threat by preventing the Soviets from making an effec- 
tive strike against our ground-based missiles. Safeguard had a very great ad- 
vantage over Sentinel in that it did not have to work perfectly in order to be 
effective, Defending a city was an all-or-nothing proposition, for if even one 
enemy missile got through, the city would be gone. A defensive system that 
saved half the cities it defended would be a tragic failure; however, a defensive 
system that saved half of the Minuteman missiles it was protecting would be a 
towering success. Without the hope of destroying the American deterrent, the 
Soviets would not dare to strike American cities at all, thus making defensive 
forces around cities much less urgent anyway (Kaplan 350-351). 

Despite the advantages of the Safeguard system, scientific critics of ABM 
were not appeased. George Rathjens, a former defense scientist now teach- 
ing political science at MIT, reacted to the President's plan in the April 1969 
edition of Scientific- American. By now, MIRVs were public knowledge, and 
opponents of missile defense could argue that they would render ABMs inef- 
fective. Rathjens made use of this argument, too, but his main concern was 
the consequences that ABMs might have for the arms race. He reaffirmed Mc- 
Namara's argument that defensive missiles would elicit an "action-reaction" 
effect whereby the Soviets would simply match our defensive weapons with 
less expensive offensive weapons of their own. Indeed, he even borrowed the 
title of McNamara's San Francisco speech for his own article, "The Dynam- 
ics of the Arms Race." Rathjens also suggested that the Soviets might well 
overreact to an American ABM deployment since they could not know in 
advance how far it might proceed. More ominously, he argued that a power 

The Mind's Eye 39 

William Montgomery 

equipped with both MIRVs and ABMs might well be tempted to conduct a 
first strike since the damaged retaliatory forces that survived the first strike 
could probably be fended off by its defense. "In short, if one or both of the two 
superpowers had such capabilities, the world would be a much more unstable 
place than it is now" (21). Rathjens conceded that, at some point, it might 
be necessary for the U.S. to takes steps to shield its offensive weapons from 
Soviet MIRV attack. For the moment, though, he appeared to believe that the 
Polaris submarines offered enough deterrent force to discourage any Soviet 
attack (22-23). He was not optimistic that negotiations between the two pow- 
ers could achieve major reductions in offensive forces, but he did hope tor an 
agreement that would limit such weapons to their present levels (25). 

Rathjens was able to repeat much of his argument in a collection of ar- 
ticles on ABM edited by Abram Chayes and Wiesner. Many of the contribu- 
tions were rather short, but the book was introduced by a lengthy overview 

at Harvard Law School. The other three were associated with MIT. This ar- 
ticle, too, raised questions about the capacity of ABMs to stop offensive mis- 
siles. The authors thought that the Spartan and Sprint missiles were better 
adapted for urban defense than for the protection of missile bases; neverthe- 
less, they were above all worried that ABMs, regardless of their design, might 
destabilize the arms race. Even though the authors had little confidence in 
the performance of defensive weapons, they suspected that Soviet military 
planners might take them much more seriously, much as American planners 
had adopted MIRVs in response to the Soviet Golash system. The proposed 
Safeguard system was intended to deploy ten times as many missiles as the 
current Golash system. In addition to protecting missile bases, it offered at 
least some protection to the entire nation and could easily be expanded to 
provide more. Since the U.S. already had announced its intentions to deploy 
MIRVs on the new Minuteman III and Posiden missiles, the authors thought 
the addition of ABMs would alarm the Soviets. The best hope we had for sta- 
bilizing the arms race would be a treaty agreement with the Soviets, yet ABM 
construction could interfere with any American effort to negotiate such an 
agreement (51-57; See also Enthoven & Smith 184-194). 

The new Nixon Administration was keenly interested in negotiating an 
arms control agreement, yet they saw the issue differently from the critical 
scientists. Recognizing that missile defense lacked popular support, they were 
ready to concede the issue. They insisted, though, that Congress go ahead and 

40 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

pass the bill because they needed a successfu! program as a bargaining chip 
for negotiating with the Soviets. After all, the Soviets were not likely to give 
up defensive weapons that they had already installed at great expense unless 
the U.S. was prepared to make an equivalent investment. Congress reluctantly 
complied— though only by the narrowest of margins, 'the Administration's 
tenacity pai d off when the Soviets agreed to a treaty limiting the installation of 
ABMs. Initially each side was allowed two ABM sites, one defending its capi- 
tal and one defending a missile base. Within two years, the Soviets changed 
their minds, and the treaty was modified to reduce the number of sites to one 
on each side with the Soviets retaining their site defending Moscow and the 
Americans completing their site at the missile base at Grand Forks, ND, The 
site at Grand Forks operated for only a few months before the Army decided 
to shut it down, and Congress concurred. It already had done its job. Aside 
from the outdated weapons posted around Moscow, defensive nuclear mis- 
siles were gone. 

After extensive debate, Americans finally rejected ABMs, even to the 
point of granting the Soviets a few weapons around their capital after the ABM 
treaty was signed. In doing so, leading opponents expressed skepticism not 
just about the effectiveness of defensive weapons, but also about weapons de- 
ployment and arms races in general. This mistrust of arms races had a history 
going back to World War I and the isolationist movement of the 1930s; nev- 
ertheless, before the idea of an arms race could be made meaningful for Cold 
War Americans, somebody had to make it fit people's expectations. Above all, 
it had to be stripped of its conspiratorial overtones and given a more imper- 
sonal, technocratic look. When McNamara first resisted Congressional de- 
mands for defensive missiles, he often employed arguments first made by Air 
Force generals about the weakness of defensive weapons. In its mature form, 
the claim that defensive weapons would lead to an arms race also was crafted 
by an Air Force general, but it had broad appeal to civilian arms experts and 
McNamara, too. When scientists like York, Wiesner and Rathjens followed his 
lead, they endorsed his policy for a generation of Americans who were perfectly 
happy with American corporate capitalism, but were beginning to get anxious 
about nuclear weapons technology. 

Neither model of the arms race provided a satisfactory interpretation for 
the way the market for arms actually worked; such schemas presumed a neu- 
tral worldview in which people worked out their fates without consideration 
for events going on around them. However, by the late 1960s, Congress and 

The Mind's Eye 41 

William Montgomery 

the public had more on their minds than an abstract theory of the arms race. 
The expense and frustration of the Vietnam War weighed heavily against the 
ABM just as it had against the Nike- Hercules. Nobody conducted a public 
campaign against the Nike-Hercules; it just lost support while people were 
worrying about other things. Like the Nike-Hercules, the ABM looked like a 
budget problem. Unlike the Nike-Hercules, ABM aiso looked big enough to 
provoke something. With the Vietnam War going badly for the U.S., people chose 
to throttle down the nuclear arms race. Technological weaknesses may not have 
doomed the ABM, but the system did fuel weapons competition at a time when 
most people were losing confidence in weapons. The more it rained in Southeast 
Asia, the more North Dakota looked like a quagmire, too. 


Bright, Christopher J. Continental Defense in ike Eisenhower Era: Nuclear An- 
tiaircraft Arms and the Cold War. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 
2010. Print. 

Bruce- Briggs, B, Ihe Shield of Faith: A Chronicle of Strategic Defense from 
Zeppelins to Star Wars. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. Print. 

Chayes, Abram, Jerome B. Wiesner, George W. Rathjens, and Steven Weinberg. 

"An Overview." ABM: An Evaluation of the Decision to Deploy an 
Antiballistic Missile System. Ed. Abram Chayes and Jerome B. Wi- 
esner. New York: Harper & Row, 1969. Print. 

Divine, Robert A. 'Ihe Illusion of Neutrality. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1962. 

Ellul, Jacques, The Technological Society. New York: Knopf, 1967. Print. 

Enthoven, Alain C. and K. Wayne Smith. How Much is Enough? Shaping the 
Defense Program, 1961-1969. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2005. Re- 
print of 1971 edition. Print. 

Franck, James, et. al. "The Franck Report, June 1 1, 1945: Report of the Com- 
mittee on Political and Social Problems Manhatten Project "Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory." Web. 1/25/2011. 

Garthoff, Raymond L. "BMD and East-West Relations." Ballistic Missile De- 
fense. Ed. Ashton B. Carter and David N. Schwartz. Washington, 
DC: Brookings Institution, 1984,275-329. Print. 

Greenwood, Ted. Making the MIRV: A Study in Defense Decision Making. 
Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1975. Print. 

42 The Mind's Eye 

William Montgomery 

Kaplan, Fred. The Wizards of Armageddon. New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1983. Print. 

Lynch, Cecelia. Beyond Appeasement: Interpreting Interwar Peace Movements 
in World Politics. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1999. Print. 

May, Ernest R., and Philip D. Zelikow, eds. 'Rie Kennedy Tapes: Inside the 
White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Belknap Press of Har- 
vard UP: Cambridge, MA, 1997. Print. 

McNamara. "The Dynamics of Nuclear Strategy." Department of State Bul- 
letin 58 (Oct. 9, 1967): 443-451. Print. 

Nash, Philip. The Other Missiles of October. Chapel Hill, NC: U of North 
Carolina?, 1997. 

Nolan, JanneE. Guardians of the Arsenal: The Politics of Nuclear Strategy n.p.: 

New Republic/ Basic Books,, 1989. Prinl. 
Rathjens, George W. "The Dynamics of the Arms Race." Scientific American 

April 1969: 15-25 and 146. Print. 
Rhodes, Richard, The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon and 

Schuster, 1986. Print. 
Smith, Alice Kimball. A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists Movement in Ameri- 
ca, 1945-1947. Chicago: U of Chicago Pr, 1965. Print. 
Wiesner, Jerome B., and Herbert F. York. "National Security and the Nuclear 

Test Ban." Scientific American Oct. 1964: 27-35. Print. 
Wiltz, John E.In Search of Peace: 'the Senate Munitions Inquiry, 1934-36. n.p.: 

Louisiana State U P, 1963. Print, 
Yanareila, Ernest J. the Missile Defense Controversy: Strategy, Technology, and 

Politics, 1 955- 1 972 (Lexington, KYJ : University Presses of Kentucky, 

1977. Print. 

'Ike Mind's Eye 43 

Two Sides of Snow 

The day of the reading was the first time she had left the baby. They 
needed the money, and she reluctantly called a sitter. The baby, so long 
in coming and so definite in his wants and dislikes, was comfortable 
but she feared only with her. Everywhere she went, even in the apartment, she 
carried him in a Mexican rebozo shawl tied against her stomach— imagining 
if left alone he might disappear or become ill. 

It was gray, bitter cold, lightly snowing, the air too harsh for a baby, she 
realized as she ran up Hancock to Beacon and then two blocks south past the 
State House. She and the baby's father, a classical guitarist, were presenting a 
Christmas program at the Women's City Club and he had run ahead to make 
sure there was a podium. The rushing and anticipation of the exact timing 
of verse and music made her nervous. She had barely rehearsed in between 
feedings, even though she knew the poems not quite by heart but as ideas 

It was the first time in seven months she had been alone. She stopped be- 
fore the stoop in front of the club, struck by the orange brick, rounded houses, 

44 The Mind's Eye 

Deborah Brown 

side by side, and the descending brick sidewalks, the colored lights scalloping 
the empty branches on the Common, familiar landmarks that now looked for- 
eign, though she couldn't see what had changed. It might have been the snow 
gathering speed and covering the edges of everything. 

The program flew by; they were informal presenters, almost street people, 
with esoteric material— Corelli, Byrd, Villa-Lobos,T.S. El iot, Langston Hughes, 
Millay and Cummings— all visions of Christmas, all unfamiliar, the audience 
said later. One woman asked to examine the texts and scores. Perhaps it was 
their laid-back, unscholarly manner that made the woman suspicious. 

The reader smiled and said a much-wanted baby is an inspiration to al- 
most everyone. Another woman dressed in purple, her gloved hand shaking, 
took her hand and thanked her for the words. 

She wondered if she should call to see if the baby was content before 
hurrying home. She had been gone only a little over an hour. Surprisingly, 
she decided not to call as she wanted to take a little more time— to remember 
the city she had known so long and intimately before the baby was born. The 
baby's father had left for his everyday job. 

As she came downstairs, a cluster of businessmen who met monthly on 
the floor above the reading stood at the front door saying good-byes, button- 
ing coats and after several handshakes, putting on gloves before they opened 
the door. She squeezed in the middle of them and stepped carefully down the 
frosted granite stoop. The snow had laid a blanket even on the trees, the lights 
now no brighter than teardrops. 

She headed down Beacon when a mans voice behind her called out. 

"Young lady, where are you going?" 

"I'm going home," she said, turning around. 

He was a tall, older man, maybe in his 80s, in a dark cashmere coat, half 
smiling at her, pulling his hands in and out of the side pockets of his coat as if 
looking for a handkerchief or something he might need. She had seen him in 
the circle of men at the club and now recognized his face as the senator whose 
steady patrician voice had spoken for New England for many years. 

"I am disoriented and not sure where I am," he said as if this wasn't un- 
usual. "Can I walk with you? 1 want to go to Mount Vernon Street." 

"Yes. Please. I'm going that way." 

"Thank yon," he said. He took her by the elbow and guided her across 
the side street. She turned slowly up the next street, the steep one leading to 
Mount Vernon, and his hand returned to her elbow. The snow was swirling at 

The Minis Eye 45 

Deborah Brown 

their feet and the parked cars had become uniform white lumps. 

She didn't talk about the weather, ask which block on Mount Vernon-, 
she didn't push to exchange names, to applaud his service. She didn't tell him 
about the baby she had never thought she could have, or ask if he felt less at 
odds now with where he was, or if someone was waiting for him. She didn't 
mention that earlier she also had felt disoriented. 

Like the snow, they moved along comfortably in silence, purposely, as if 
rehearsed, as if embraced by fam iliarity, to the top of the hill. 

46 The Mind's Eye 



Robert wasn't used to having someone speak for him, and so he sat ner- 
vously, clenching his teeth. Don, his lawyer, argued the case as best 
he could, but Robert could tell by the grin spreading on the face of 
the unctuous, acne-scarred plaintiff, that h is representative was getting bested. 

For a split second, he'd considered firing Don, trying to settle the affair on 
his own. He didn't know the first thing about procedures and whatnot, and 
Don had been a friend of the family for years, but Robert couldn't afford to 
lose the case. He sat back and tried to relax his jaw, to appear calm. 

"You know my client is under no such obligation to compensate anyone 
for anything," Don pointed out. 

Across the desk, the opposing lawyer confidently reached into his attache 
case and produced one of the hundreds of reward fliers Robert had posted 
around town, the black and white photo of a smiling Elizabeth Banker— Rob- 
ert's 16-year-old daughter— centered below the heading "$145,000 Reward." 
The lawyer held it up. "You know better. I have a binding contract right here 
stating that the printed sum is owed to anyone who finds the missing girl or 
comes forth with information leading to her whereabouts. My client found 
the girl, and as such he deserves to be compensated." 

Ihe Mmd's, Eye 47 

lason Wandrei 

"Your client may have found Elizabeth Banker," argued Don, "and my cli- 
ent is eternally grateful, I'm sure. But even you have to agree, Gene, there's no 
signature on that piece of paper. No specific agreement drawn up between my 
client and yours." 

"But there is," said Gene. "This is a specific agreement drawn up between 
Mr. Banker and anyone who finds his daughter." He motioned to the flier. 
"This piece of paper represents a contract, a contract that your client is unlaw- 
fully refusing to honor." 

"Well, if you consider every advertisement to be a legally binding con- 
tract, then I'm assuming your next client is someone whose body spray didn't 
get them in bed with a hot teenage girl. Or a smoker that doesn't look so hot 
in her bikini. My client advertised the reward in order to garner more sup- 
port for his search efforts, because he was, at the time, under the assumption 
that his daughter had been abducted. This turned out not to be the case. Be- 
sides, it's not like your client suited up commando style and single-handedly 
rescued her from evil-doers, He simply happened to be doing his job for the 
first time that week. For that feat, he deserves exactly what he's received, his 
regular paycheck and Mr. Banker's gratitude." 

Gene said, "Not according to this flier." His expression turned earnest. 
"Don, you know you can't win this." 

Robert glared at Ernie, the smug plaintiff in the spaghetti-stained blazer 
next to Gene, arms crossed at his chest. Robert wanted to know what drove a 
man like thaH, how he could put Robert's family through that kind of strain af- 
ter the horror they'd already endured. He tugged at his collar, his jaw muscles 
flaring his cheeks. 

"I don't think you understand, Gene," Don warned. He then met Ernie's 
eyes, "ff this does see the inside of a courtroom your client will lose more than 
the case. The press will eat up a story about a man so shallow that he slapped 
a lawsuit on a local business owner who only days ago believed his daughter 
had been abducted, for reward money that he feels he earned by doing noth- 
ing more than emptying garbage." 

Gene entreated, "Likewise, 1 doubt you'd like Mr. Banker to endure the 
same scrutiny, considering his daughter caused a citywide panic because she 
w : as too high to move for a week. People took days, off of work, husbands, 
wives combed the city for her, hoped that if they looked hard enough they'd 
find the poor innocent victim, only to discover that they were searching for 
a drug fiend. Then, after they hear that her own father either feels she is un- 

4t* Jhs Mind's Eye 

lawn Wandrei 

worthy of the price he set for her safe return, he'll be seen as a fraud as well." 

"Do you have a daughter?!" Robert stood up and wove a finger in Genes 
face. "Do you have any family at all, you fucking shyster?" 

Don took him by the shoulders, eased him back into his chair and chided 
him with his eyes. "Let's all calm down now. Nothing is going to get resolved 
if we're at each other's throats" 

"I agree," said Gene, smiling. 

Robert stewed in his chair, and started to grind his teeth. Though Don 
had insisted he remain quiet and appear confident throughout the proceed- 
ings, he surely couldn't have been expected to endure underhanded assaults 
on his family's character and not retaliate. 

Don sat back down and smoothed out his tie. "So, now then, we've estab- 
lished that this will be a PR disaster for all parties involved." 

Gene nodded, "My client is prepared." 

Tm sure he is, right now anyway. But this could drag on for months. 
Is he prepared for the long haul, when they start digging up his elementary 
school report cards and behavioral evaluations, how he made little Britney cry 
by pulling her ponytail then dropped out before reaching high school?" 

Ernie didn't speak, smile, or move. His bristled, saggy jowls clung life- 
lessly to his polyester shirt. 

"My client is not intimidated," answered Gene. 

Don tried, "Well then, is his wallet intimidated? Let's face it Gene, you're not 
going to work pro bono, and this one is going to have a pretty big price tag." 

"I've agreed to suspend my compensation until after the proceedings, 
considering the strength of the case." 

"We've already established that there is no case. You'll get nothing." 

"We'll get the full 145, plus fees, if we drag this to court." Don shook 
his head, but before he could voice further protest Gene came forward with, 
"Which is why I suggested we meet here in your office rather than taking it 
that far. My client is willing to settle for an even $ 100,000 right here and now." 

"What?" Don asked incredulously. 

"Yeah, what?" added Robert. 

Don eyed him sternly. Robert leaned back in his chair and ground his 
teeth hard enough to produce an audible squeaking sound. 

Don asked, "Have you not been listening, Gene? Why would 1 agree to 
those terms when you'll end up with nothing in the end? You have no case." 

"We both know there is a case, Don." Gene slid the flier across the desk. 

Ike Mind's Eye 49 

]ason Wandrci 

"We'll see about that." Don plucked the flier from his desk, crumbled it 
up, and threw it in the waste basket. 

Gene sighed and picked up his attache case. As he ushered a slow-mov- 
ing Ernie out, Robert seethed, his teeth all but smoking. 

• ■ • 

"We have to settle, Robert," admitted Don when the office had cleared. 

"I thought you said that lowlife didn't have a case?" 

"It doesn't matter what I said. The advertisement defense 1 presented 
is thin at best, stupid at worst." He picked his head up and said, "You realize 
none of this would've happened had you been more calm instead of going off 
half-cocked and posting the huge reward. Those things have to have airtight 
wording so incidents like this don't happen, and you left it so open-ended 
I'm surprised there isn't a line of people from that same apartment complex 
claiming that they smelled your daughter and told Ernie to check in the 
dumpster, and now they want to be compensated because scent constitutes 
secondhand information." 

"I don't believe this." Robert got up and paced in front of Don's desk. 
"So there's no way to win? Even if we explain to the jury that the $145,000 
was intended to show 1 was willing to give up my house and my business to 
compensate someone who'd bring my daughter back safely?" 

"None of that matters. You could've put a billion dollar reward on that poster 
for any reason you could think of, and Ernie would still have a right to claim it," 

Robert clamped his jaw. He wanted to know, "What kind of lawyer are 
you? Hdw could you let them march in here and walk over us like that with- 
out a sensible counter argument prepared?" 

"It's not easy when the law's not on my side. And your outburst didn't 
help any either." 

"Could you have sat there quietly if he was talking that way about your 

"I don't know. But I do know I might've been able to work something 
out if you would Ve just settled down and sat there. 1 told you to sit there and 
look confident," 

Robert opened the office door. "1 don't know why I still deal with you. I 
should've handled this myself from the beginning." 

Don shouted, "Don't do anything rash, Robert! Maybe we can still work 
a better deal?" 

50 Iht Mind's tye 

lason Wandrei 

Robert slammed the door behind him, then stuck a ringer in his mouth 
and rubbed his aching molars. 

• i ■ 

"We're going to lose everything," said Laura, convinced. With her mani- 
cured, red-painted fingernails, she pushed a series of buttons on the old clunk- 
er of a cash register and told the elderly customer, "That'll be $10.97." Robert 
gritted his teeth and bagged the woman's cans of tuna and grapefruit. 

Before going for her wallet, the old woman looked quizzical and asked, 
"Isn't the fruit on sale?" 

"That was last week," Laura explained, 

The woman drew the sales flier from her purse and flipped through it. 
"Oh yes. I see it here now. Weil, 1 need fruit anyway." She handed over the 
money, and Robert was grateful that she didn't argue about the sale, grateful 
that she didn't push to get something she didn't deserve. 

He handed the woman her bag and waited until she walked away. "Stop 
worrying, Laura," he urged his wife, "I'm going to fix this," 

"How can you possibly fix this now? We have to settle or we'll lose every- 
thing." She turned her round cheek away from Robert. "I told you Bethel turn 
up, that the reward was a bad idea." 

Because nobody lingered in any of the five aisles of the Crossroads Gro- 
cery, Robert could've raised his voice as loud as he wished. Though, instead, 
he opted to growl through his teeth, "Oh yes, your faith was unwavering while 
you cried away the days and nights, shouting to the heavens that you'd give 
anything to have Beth back. You fought me so hard with that, T don't know, 
Robert,' when I posed offering a reward. You're right, this is all my fault. No 
customers, a lawsuit, our daughter on drugs, all of it." 

Laura closed her plump hands into fists, then released them. Robert remem- 
bered how slender and bony those fingers were when they'd met, because the 
means to produce three square meals a day had eluded her parents. But he had 
worked seven days a week to change that. He made sure that she was given the 
best of everything, and he couldn't believe that his years of diligence and faithful- 
ness hadn't exempted him from remarks as ungrateful as, "Well if you would've 
looked harder, took more time out of this place, you may have found her yourself. 
If you would've just . . . She'll never get to college. Not now. Not after all of this," 

He took off his apron, balled it up, and left it next to the paper bags. "Well, 
I'm not going to give up. 1 said I'd fix this, and I'll fix it. We're not going to settle." 

file Mind's Eye 51 

Jason Wandrei 

He stormed away, past the meat counter he had installed three years ago, 
into the office he'd constructed with a loan he still had five years' worth of 
payments on, and he paced back and forth nest to his desk, chomping air and 
plotting his next move, his teeth clicking loudly. 

• • • 

"Crack," Elizabeth told Aaron, the substance abuse counselor. "I wuth 
thmoking crack, and I was . . . am an addict. 1 ' 

"It's a step in the right direction that you can admit it," Aaron reassured her. 

Robert kept his mouth tightly shut. His daughter had emaciated to the 
point of fragility, her collarbones jutting out sharply, and it wasn't easy to take 
her in from across the circle of chairs. 

It wasn't easy to listen to her voice, either. He used to love the sound of 
her severely feminine tone, but after she'd come home without her front teeth, 
he loathed the lisp the space created. It served as a constant reminder of his 
failure to procure the better life he sought for her. 

But he was sure to interject to Aaron, "By the way, just so you know, we're 
going to get her teeth fixed. Were not going to let her go on like that." He ran 
his tongue across his front teeth, smooth and complete. 

"OK." Aaron wrote something into his notepad then turned to his right. 
"Now Mrs. Banker, can you give me some background information. How 
were things at home leading up to this?" 

"To my knowledge things were fine." Laura kept her manicured hands 
folded and resting on her jean skirt. 

"OK." Aaron scratched his graying beard, then asked, "Can you expand 
on that? Can you tell me what things were like when Elizabeth was young?" 

Laura turned to her right, patted her daughters hand and explained, "Beth 
was wonderful growing up. She and I were home together a lot in the beginning, 
when Robert bought the building, There was the refurbishing of the apartment, 
Robert constandy expanding the store downstairs. There was so much going on, 
but she handled it well. She was happy, or at least seemed it. We all were." 

"Of course we were happy," Robert said. "Why wouldn't we be?" He 
looked at his daughter. "Right?" 

"Of corth. Daddy," she said quickly. "1 had the betht parents growing up." 

"OK," Aaron said,"so when did things change?" 

Robert worked his teeth back and forth, rubbing the bottom row lightly 
against the top as his daughter spoke,"What do you mean?" 

52 The Mini's Eye 

jason Wandrd 

"At what point did the good times end? At what point did you feel you 
needed to turn to drugs?" 

Robert told him, "Hold on a minute. My daughter didn't 'turn to drugs' 
Some asshole pusher out there took advantage of her naivety, her innocence, 
and got her hooked on that junk." 

"I'd like Elizabeth to answer, please." 

Elizabeth shifted her gaunt body to cross one leg over the other, her jeans 
hanging limply from her calves and thighs. "Well ... I don't know" 

Aaron promised her, "You're not going to get into trouble. The sooner we 
confront the problem the sooner we can go about dealing with it." He looked 
to Robert and Laura. "Nobody is going to get upset, are they?" 

Robert answered, "No," for both of them. 

Elizabeth flipped her raven-black hair out of her face. "Well ... I geth it 
wuth when 1 got into high school." 

"What happened in high school?" Aaron prompted, and Robert added, 
"Yeah, what happened? Were people picking on you? Did a boy touch you?" 

"No, no," she denied. "Nothing like that. It wuth . . ." 

"Go ahead," Aaron encouraged. 

"I geth it wuth all the work. The homework, the reading. The college prep 
corthes had so much to them that 1 couldn't keep up. I failed another tetht 
and I wanted to quit then and there." She looked at Robert. "And I'm thorry, 
Daddy, but you weren't around much to help out. But I knew 1 had to keep 
trying, becuth if I didn't . . * 

Laura immediately pointed at Robert. "You see, I told you. You pushed her 
too hard! 1 told you she didn't want to go to college, but you wouldn't let her take 
the remedial courses! fesus!" She threw her arms histrionically around Elizabeth. 

Robert stood up,"This isn't my fault, Laura! I've spent my entire life bust- 
ing my ass to make something of that market. Adding the meat counter, the 
office, the entire frozen food department. I haven't had a day's rest in years. 
Do you think I want that for her? No! I want her to do something better than 
stocking groceries and ringing up sales. So sue me! But I didn't make her 
smoke crack." 

"None of that matters now anyway. We're going to be out on the street 
thanks to your reward posters anyway." 

"Everyone settle down," Aaron prompted too calmly for the situation. 

Robert paced the office from bookcase to bookcase, biting down hard 
enough to send sharp pains shooting through his jaw. He only glanced at 

Tht ■ Minds Eye 53 

lason Wandrei 

Elizabeth sporadically between her sobs, avoiding as best he could looking at 
the hole in her teeth. 

• t • 

Outside, the sun was setting quickly, and the warm air faded with the 
daylight. Robert gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek. She was still shaken 
up from the therapy session, and when he touched her shoulders he felt her 
trembling hard enough to rattle her bones. "Don't worry, honey, None of this 
is your fault, and I'm going to fix everything right now." He told Laura, "Take 
her home. I'll be along in a few hours." 

"Haven't you done enough? You're going to make this worse, Robert. Just 
get in the car. How much more do you think your daughter can take?" 

He walked away in the midst of Laura's protests, and heard one last, 
"Where is this going to end?" before she pulled away. Until then, she had been 
the perfect wife; he wouldn't have settled for anything less. From the start 
of their courtship, she had supported him in his every endeavor, constantly 
assured him that everything would be all right even when times were bleak. 
Had the lawsuit been slapped on him ten years ago, she would have been right 
behind him, fighting until the end. But times were different. They had only 
lost Elizabeth for a week, but facing the possibility that she would never come 
home again had taken its emotional toll on Laura and changed her, possibly 
forever. People can only take so much before they crack, Robert understood, 
and Laura may have reached her breaking point. So, no matter how many 
times she cursed him with blame, he couldn't quit on her, because, though she 
wouldn't admit as much, she desperately needed someone to help nudge her 
toward recovery. 

And Robert was that someone, because he had not yet found his break- 
ing point, even after all that had happened. It would take more than Ernie to 
break him down, make him quit. He'd make Ernie see. 

Robert came to the dilapidated apartment complex. The paint peeled from 
the window casings, exposing the wood beneath, and the rest of the olive exterior 
had weathered much the same. Pieces of loose shingles clogged the rain gutters, 
and the screen doors had holes big enough to accommodate flying insects of ev- 
ery size. Robert was sure nobody had done any maintenance for years, and he was 
shocked to see a realtor's sign rather than a condemnation order swinging on the 
brown, gnarled patch of grass in front of the complex. 

54 The Mindi Eye 

}ason Wandrei 

The cool breeze gave him a chill, and goose bumps formed on his arras, 
He wanted to move things along quickly in order to get back to the warmth of 
his home and family. But before knocking on Ernie's door, he strayed from the 
sidewalk into the alleyway, down to the dumpster where Elizabeth resided for 
an entire week. He still hadn't seen it, and even then he was driven by curios- 
ity rather than desire. Somewhere near its deep green sides, its rusted edges, 
or its cavernous innards, two pearl while pieces of his daughter had been lost. 

He raised the ckmpster's lid. Even devoid of garbage the smell made 
him cringe, but it was the thought of his little girl amongst that stench of 
decomposition, lighting the dank darkness with a glowing glass pipe full of 
junk that completely disgusted him. He scanned the black hole for her teeth. 
They weren't there. As he let the lid down he wasn't sure he wanted to know 
where they were. What he did want to know was how wanting the best for 
his daughter had brought out her worst, and understanding passed beyond 
his rationale. Though, remedying the problem hadn't. He'd already cast off 
Aaron's closing notions of easing things up over the next few weeks, and he 
would have kept his daughter from attending further meetings had they not 
been court ordered. The only way to help Elizabeth was to stop coddling her. 
Neither Robert nor Laura had ever even raised their voice at her before, be- 
cause they had believed keeping their tempers made them better parents, But 
Robert had seen firsthand that his leniency had allowed his daughter to grow 
into adolescence without a backbone. He needed to strengthen her resolve, 
so when life got tough she wouldn't once again break down instead of doing 
whatever it took to persevere. 

The rattling thud of a garbage bag hitting the sidewalk startled Robert. 
At the alley's dark entrance stood a shirtless Ernie, his hairy shoulders matted 
down in two places where his suspenders' straps cut through. "Gene said you 
might come here. He said to stay away from you." 

Robert had never heard Ernie talk before. His words came out slurred, as if 
he'd been drinking, but as Robert drew closer he could smell no alcohol. "I know 
you've been advised not to talk to me, Ernie. But I had to talk to you, man to man." 

Ernie didn't move, or say anything. 

"Now, I know you're probably not doing as well as you could be, but at 
least you have a steady income with the rent money, and when the place finally 
sells you'll be able to move somewhere even better." 

"Save the smoke blowin' for the lawyers." Ernie spat on the sidewalk. "I'll 
be lucky to get twenty grand for this dump." 

The Mind's Eye 55 

lason Wandrei 

Robert saw that the slur hadn't come from booze, but because there was 
not one tooth behind Ernie's lips. He sucked his own lips tight to his teeth be- 
fore continuing, "Still, you can do a lot with that kind of money, go wherever 
you want to go, make a fresh start somewhere else," 

Ernie spat again. "You think I wanna start again? I should be retirin' right 
now, for Christ's sake, and twenty grand ain't going to get me there. Twenty 
grand ain't going to get me nothin'. No house. No car. Nothin'." 

Robert bit down and thought he felt a front tooth loosen. "Well, you have 
to do something, Ernie. You'll have no other income. Twenty grand is more 
than some people make in a year, It'll keep you on your feet for a while until 
you find another job, one you like." 

"I've worked my whole life taking care of this oraphole. My grandfather 
owned it. My father owned it, Now I own it. This is all I know. But I want 
nuthin' to do with it anymore. Haven't for a long time. I'm tired of painting. 
Tired of fixing faucets. Tired of tracking people down who skip on their rent 
Tired of taking out the garbage. I'm done with it." 

Robert empathized, "So you know what it's like to live where you work, 
and how much it takes to keep the place going." 

"Too much." 

"Well I live where 1 work, too. You probably know that already. I've 
worked every single day since I bought the place. I know exactly what you're 
feeling. You get tired of being unappreciated after a while. I know." 

Ernie spat, 

Robert went on as calmly as he could. "But you don't have to give up. 
You can reinvigorate yourself, make your complex into the best in town, up 
the rent, live like a king. All you need is a few cans of paint, some shingles, the 
place will look great. I'll even help out if you need it." 

Ernie asked, "What did you come here for?" 

Robert leveled with him. "I came here to admit that the $145,000 is the 
total worth of my building right now. The market and my apartment above 
put together. If you take it, you'll wipe me out. 1 want to know how you can go 
through with something like that, Ernie, because it's going to kill my family. I 
mean, what if you had a family? What if you found a special lady and you two 
decided to have children, and then you built your apartments up, expanded, 
constantly tried to make the most out of them, because you wanted the best 
for your wife and kid? Then, one day, some guy swooped in out of nowhere 
and threatened to take all of it away over some fine print?" 

56 The Mind's Eye 

Jason Wandrei 

Ernie wiped his nose with the back of his hand then rubbed it on his jeans. 
"Not my problem. I found your girl. That's all the poster said 1 had to do." 

"And I thank you for that, but what good is it if what you're doing now 
tears us apart?" 

"You offered the reward." 

"But you didn't do anything! You didn't even leave your house to look 
for her." 

"Sometimes things come easy like hitting the lotto." 

"Please," Robert grumbled through his clamped teeth. "Please just let this go." 

Ernie stayed quiet. 

Robert was getting annoyed. "Do you really think you're going to get 
anything out of this anyway? After Gene socks you with legal fees, and then 
taxes are taken out, you'll be lucky to end up with enough money to buy a T- 
shirt. It's pointless." 

Ernie looked pensive for a moment. Then, for the first time, he drew his 
lips back into a dark, toothless grin. "How's about we cut out the middle men 
then? Til sign whatever papers you want right here and now, make a contract 
right here between us, for . . . let's say fifty." 

"Fifty . . . thousand?" 

Ernie spat. "That's less than half. More than Til get after all the bull with 

"Easy?!" Robert feigned outrage, and paced from wall to wall in the alley- 
way. "Easy" was an understatement. Ernie's offer was a steal. It'd be tight, but 
Robert could come up with the money, have Don draw up the paperwork this 
time, make it airtight, and he'd end up getting off the hook for pennies com- 
pared to the original whopping sum. Eventually things would turn around at 
the market, and he'd be able to make a small profit while paying back the loan. 
The pressure to settle bit down on him with incomparable force, and all he 
had to do was acquiesce, let it grind away his implacable ambition so he could 
put an end to the case and move forward. 

But the way to success was never easy, and there was no settling involved. 
If he threw away $50,000 just to reward a filthy lowlife who'd lost his will to 
work, any repairs, preventive maintenance, or additions to the market would 
have to wait. Taura could no longer get her nails done. He'd no longer be 
able to pay for his daughter's rehab, her college education, or to get her teeth 
fixed. His entire life would devolve instead of evolve, so, "No," he told Ernie. 
"No way in Hell." 

Ihe Mind's Eye 57 

/flson Wandrei 

"Whaddaya mean?" 

"You think I'm going to crack that easily? Just up and settle?" 

Ernie said, reluctantly, "Well the lowest I can go is forty-five." 

Robert only half listened to the offer as he poked away at the tooth he 
thought had loosened. As he did, he spotted a speck of white on the pave- 
ment, in the dark shadows beside the dumpster. He trotted over, knelt down 
and picked it up, but, to his disappointment, it was only a chewed piece of 
bubblegum. He tossed it to the side and told himself that soon his daughter 
would have new teeth, better ones that would never rot away or be knocked 
out. They'd be stronger than his own. The tooth he had poked didn't give at all 
when he pushed it again. 

"I'm through negotiating," Robert said. He brushed shoulders with Ernie 
on his way out of the alleyway, and was insl anlly sickened by the course hairs 
rubbing on his shirtsleeve. 

"Have it your way, Banker," Ernie taunted. "You'll see what happens." 
Robert remained silent, and paused only long enough to decipher the phone 
number scrawled on the realtor's sign before heading home. 

« « * 

Two weeks later, after Robert had closed the market for the night and 
gone upstairs for dinner, the phone rang. Robert picked it up, and Don asked, 
"How's Elizabeth?" 

"She's coming along." 

Elizabeth was at the kitchen table examining her trigonometry text, thor- 
oughly working each example through, the way her assigned tutor had shown. 
She was back in school full-time, with the same classes, the same workload, 
but she hadn't yet failed another test, not even a random one her probation 
officer had administered to check for illegal substances. 

Laura stirred a pot of spaghetti sauce at the stove, her nails perfect, and 
she glanced at Robert every now and then as he continued his conversation. 

"So what's going on?" 

"Well, I have news." Don didn't sound confident, and Robert rubbed his 
bottom row of teeth against the ones on top. "The realtor informed me today 
that the building is so beyond repair that they're willing to settle for eight 

"That's great! This is great news." Laura glanced at him, and he relaxed 
his jaw. "So why do you sound like there's a problem?" 

58 The Mind's Eye 

Jason Wandni 

"Because Gene called me, too. He said that your games aren't going to 
work, and if you go through with the purchase of Ernie's building and do in- 
deed evict him, Gene will personally kick in whatever money Ernie needs to 
stay in whatever shitty motel he has to until the reward case is settled." 

Robert went quiet, and Laura asked, "What'd you do now?" 

Elizabeth picked her head up from her work. "Ith everything OK, Dad?" 
Robert was transfixed by the black space between her teeth, which hadn't yet 
been filled. Aaron had explained at their last meeting that her mental state 
would be frail for some time yet, and the way her voice cracked when she 
posed the question made it clear to Robert that one wrong word could trigger 
another breakdown, spread the black space until it totally engulfed her again, 
the only light the glow of a dingy glass pipe. 

But Robert couldn't stop himself. He pulled his lips back into a sneer, 
his perfect teeth knitted solidly together. He told his daughter, "It's time you 
toughened up! Stop worrying about what's going on and get back to your 
homework, because things are fine." Then he turned to Laura. "And you shut 
up! I've had enough of your yapping! Things are going to be fine. 1 can fix 
this." He asked Don, "How much?" 

"For what?" 

"Gene's house." 

"Robert what are you . . ." 

Laura asked again, "What'd you do now?" the ladle at her side, dripping 
red sauce on the tiles. Elizabeth broke into long wailing sobs. And Robert 
kept his teeth tight together as he repeatedly shouted into the phone, "How 
much?! How much?!" 

Tfe Minds Rye 59 


A Final Note on Monsters 


Barclay wasn't at all surprised when the ship landed on his roof and at- 
tached itself like a parasite, its dull engine droning. Or later, when the crew 
called out to him from the basement, demanding Coca-Colas and his as- 
sistance with the circuit breakers, their blank faces oblivious to his attempts 
to communicate. He had expected all of this to happen because he'd been 
warned ahead of time. Still, it had been a shock to find himself in his own 
home with the wails ripped open, exposed channels of wires re-routed to the 
mysterious aircraft that was so hungry to fuel and refuel itself— to source oth- 
ers day and night — until the house began to glow even below the ground floor. 
And he no longer recognized the rooms he'd occupied throughout his aduit 
life and which he was now being ordered to vacate by this Captain who stood, 
unmoved and unmoving, at his bedroom door. So when Barclay remembered 
the row of nickels, dimes and quarters he had arranged, heads -down, along 
the top of the utility box out back, to detect movement in the heavens, he took 
his pad and pencil from their hiding place and made a final note on monsters: 
true, he'd anticipated their arrival, true. Even more than that, he had longed to 
hear his Christian name in their mouths. 

60 The Mind's Eye 

After Ezekiel 


A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; 
and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 

Ezekiel 36:26 

Throwing heartstones— 
An opening 

across thousands of years, 
forgets wholeness 

birthed from the darkness 

picked from the shore 

the deepness of the sea, passes 

compressed time 
heavy in the palm 
sparkles with memory 

smoothed, churned and tumbled 
linking to a distant story 

peace comes 

in metamorphosis. 

the Mind's Eye 61 


(Mimus potyglottos) 


I must write 
as you sing, 

not when you are singing purposefully, 

at once wooing a mate 

and warning away rivals, 

but as you sing for no apparent reason 

except that you can, 

out of season, 

turning somersaults 

atop a telephone pole 

in the moonlight, 

linking snatches of things you have heard 
in along pastiche 
at once eerily familiar 
yet utterly yours, 

whether anyone is listening or not, 
but if they are, 

seeming to speak to them personally, 

resonating with them, 

calling to their souls 

in a way to make all the difference, 


winging it, 

making it up as you go along 
without lovsing your way 
or your confidence, 

62 The Mind's Eye 

making it new, 

varying tone and timbre 

so we listen anew, 

now soft and tremulous 

as a whisper 

in the delicatest ear, 

now loud loud loud, 

as if knowing what to make 

of a diminished thing, 

yourself undiminished 

and sublime, 

singing in innuendo 

even when you are gone, 

that the dinosaurs that once had dominion here 
did not completely vanish from earth, 
but came to this. 

The Mind's Eye 63 

Full Circle 


Originally appearing in The Chariton Review 

Old houses drift 
toward the past 

repeating themselves, 
confusing rooms with words, 
words with walls. 

They hold the way 
to begin again 
regardless of decision, 

bending in the slow current 
of decay like autumn 

or women 

who have outlived their children, 

What nothing new to regret 
is to us, 

weather is to them, 

changes phrased 
in the blues of wood. 

64 'lhe Mind's Eye 

'through their doors 
age enters 

a stillness whose heart 

makes the sky 

look small. 

No wonder then, 

by keeping time 
to our fear of time, 

they gather all there is 
to know of love. 



During the bossa nova craze 

we roared like timbales 

brushed like water against a trio of bathers 

a window wind said )obim 
through the window 
you opened before leaving 

one of us always left behind 

a wreckage of acoustic instruments 

this darkest day for song 
we would say 

when the world was a dreamless artichoke 
on our lachrymose dinnerware 

burned our embouchure 
drank dirty martinis 
played a guitar in the boudoir 
like song and music 

66 The Mind's Eye 



It's down. The hornets' nest. 

Now first sting of frost on the ground 

and we see no threat, 

only the hollow where harm lived. 

Everything the season housed has flown: 

yellow jackets idling low in the grass, 

bats fanning the dusk, the hornets 

threading close to the roof. 

When we were children 

we'd leap from our beds, 

arms flung wide. In the seconds 

before landing, we didn't know fear 

resides in gravity or stars fall 

into themselves. We imagined rising 

over the roofs not like souls 

detached from bodies, but as bodies 

resisting the world. Light in my hands 

when I lifted it from the eave, fervor gone, 

no longer wadded in industry, this testament 

to vanishings is too fragile to hold. 

Golden Orb 


Stronger than the tensile strength of steel 

and golden-yellow when sun touches them 

just so — these spider webs gathered once 

by Madagascan fisherman, and thrown 

out on the sea, strange glint in the shallows, 
to catch a writhing shimmer of fish, 

The webmakers, the spiders— regal, 

palm-sized, oblong abdomens patterned 

and smooth like a beetle's, long legs angled 
like a cross in the center of the web. 

Imagine the spider-catchers now, 

with their bamboo poles, flicking the queen 

from her web, and the handlers, all women, 

who place each spider in its tiny 

harness, twenty-four at a time, and draw, 
slowly, from their trembling bodies, yards 

of their life's thread. Then wind it on reels- 
like the dwarf spinning hay to gold— 

to spin the filaments into silken string, to weave 

6S The Minds Eye 

a textile that gleams like a late-afternoon 

break in the clouds. From a million 

arachnids' undoing, a fabric that lives 
in a museum now. And they, 

the imprisoned ones, held until emptied 

and exhausted, are set free to try again, 

in time, their own art, if they have it in them. 

Do they creep back to the shadows, recuperate 
by the thousands, remember the old 

pattern woven through their blood, and set 

to it once more: the uncompromising web. 

While we examine the shining cloth laid out 

like a body in a glass case, the artist waits. 

A grasshopper, and then— unlikely catch— a small 

bird flies in, all flutter and flash, the weakening 

struggle, the wing that quivers and finally 

grows still. A glitch in the way of things, a bit 

of beauty arrested where by design 

it should have flown. Eight legs gingerly 

touch the ruffled feathers, regard the onyx eye. 



In the dream I have an exam 

I have to take but there is someone 

holding a paper he wants me 

to read, and then I have to get dressed 

in the right clothes and pass through 

endless hallways and drive over 

the snowy highway across a bridge 

and across the roofs of wrecked cars. 

Exhausted early I ask what exam 

I am in line for, what journey 

in order to arrive on time 

and in the right clothes, and how 

can I go out into the storm 

and drive as I know [ have to 

over the old wrecks of ray iife 

to finally arrive, to take the test 

I have studied my entire iife for. 

It is the test of sunlight off water, 

of seven crows racketing at the edges 

of things, the test of the animals 

of deep fur, and the eyes of all those 

I have loved, the test of going on 

and knowing why, of moving my tongue 

70 The Mind's Eye 

in the forest of healed over yesterdays 
and all the days to come massed 
in the ballroom of the city of night. 

If only I had known that it was now 

I was studying for when it seemed 

1 was walking backwards into the swamp 

of old rules carrying a four poster bed 

and a dining room with paintings I hated. 

If was the word 1 used always 

and I don't know was my answer 

to every question asked of my heart, 

and finally in my 62 nd year I 

have arrived at the door to the hall 

and when I open it 1 only hope 

that there will be no bluebooks, no sharp 

pencils and no grim overseer, but 

only the honey of morning and the dance 

of forgiveness that my body knows better 

than my mind can imagine. 

Book Review Essay 

Always on Behalf of the 
Weakest: Giuliana Sgrenas 
Iraq War Diaries 

Books discussed in this essay: 

II Fronte Iraq: "Diario di Una Guerra Permanent^" by Giuliana Sgrena. Mani- 
festo! ibri, 2004. 

Friendly Fire: "The remarkable story of a journalist kidnapped in Iraq, rescued 
by an Italian secret service agent, and shot by U.S. forces," by Giuliana Sgrena. 
Translated by Lesley Freeman Riva. Haymarket Books, 2006. 

i//Jirorno:"Dentro 11 Nuovo Iraq," by Giuliana Sgrena. Feltrinelli F,ditore,2010. 

On March 4, 2005, along the infamous "Route Irish" leading to the 
Baghdad Airport, United States soldiers made a split-second de- 
cision to fire on an approaching car. As the Iraq Logs released by 
Wikileaks in early 201 1 made clear in gruesome detail, such "checkpoint kill- 
ings" had become a routine part of the American-led occupation. But while 
it may have at first seemed routine, the incident that day, just a few hundred 
yards from the airport, sparked an international incident. For, the occupants 
of the car in question were Major General Nicola Calipari, second-in-com- 
mand at the Italian military intelligence agency, and Giuliana Sgrena, the Ital- 

72 Ihc Mind's Eye 

Seth Kershner 

lan journalist whose freedom from captivity he had secured just moments 
before. Before he died in the ensuing hail of gunfire, Calipari managed to 
push Sgrena onto the back seat and cover her with his body. Sgrena and the 
driver of the car were left injured. 

The U.S. military promised a prompt investigation and included two 
Italian representatives on the resulting commission of inquiry. But when a 
version of their report leaked to the press it was greeted with outrage. U.S. 
soldiers were not at fault in what could be described as merely a "tragic ac- 
cident" The report claimed that the Italians' car was traveling at one hundred 
kilometers per hour, and the driver failed to heed the numerous warnings 
given by the soldiers. (Sgrena and her driver, whose eyewitness testimony was 
solicited but apparently not included in the report, maintains that the shots 
came with no prior warning and that the car had been traveling at the much 
slower speed of around fifty kilometers per hour.) The two Italian observ- 
ers on the American commission strongly disagreed, and pushed for work 
to begin on an Italian judicial inquiry. The Italian inquiry concluded that the 
soldiers had not followed the rules of engagement, which mandate that when 
soldiers want to "warn off" an approaching car, they are to first to fire at the 
ground, then at the engine block, and only take aim at the driver and passen- 
gers as a last resort. An examination of the car revealed that of the 58 shots 
fired by the soldiers, 57 were directed at the passengers, while only the last 
bullet was fired at the engine after the car had come to a stop. They thus con- 
cluded that the soldiers had intended to kill the passengers of the vehicle and 
that the primary shooter, Sergeant Mario Lozano of the New York National 
Guard, should be charged with homicide. Predictably, however, prosecutors 
determined that they could not try an American for such a crime in Italy. 
One year later, Lozano went to the media for help in eliminating any doubts 
about his innocence. In an interview with Reuters that speaks to the military's 
contempt for independent reporting, Lozano blamed Sgrena for the incident: 

"... if it wasn't for Sgrena, this situation wouldn't happen. You know, 
she went out there. She wanted to mingle with the terrorists and 
all that. And then she gets caught. Now we have to send — now we 
have to send good men to go after this one person that knows that 
she put herself in the situation." 

In the aftermath of the shooting, Sgrena's recuperation was slow and 
difficult; the attack left her with a bullet lodged in her shoulder which had 

■[he Mind's Eye 73. 

Seth Kershner 

fragmented upon impact, puncturing a lung. Still, she found time to talk to 
American journalists like Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein, both of whom 
brought news of the case to the Fnglish-speaking world. Lost in all the hoop- 
la surrounding the affair was Sgrena's reputation as a journalist. As a sea- 
soned war reporter for the Italian Communist daily, II Manifesto, and the au- 
thor of several books, Sgrena had reported from Somalia, Afghanistan and 
other conflict zones before coming to Iraq in 2003, Working mainly out of 
Baghad during the war, she found that operating outside the military's system 
of "embedding journalists" gave her independence to report more critically. 
Her courageous reporting in the heady early days of the invasion eventually 
earned her the distinguished Calvariere del honor conferred by the 
President of the Italian Republic. Vet because so little of her work had ever 
been translated, most American commentators failed to realize at the time 
how accomplished a journalist she was. 

Sgrena grew up in a rural region of Northern Italy. Her father was a lead- 
er in the communist railroad union, a part of her biography which pushed her 
on the path to radical politics. Shortly after graduating from the University of 
Milan in 1 974, she took up what proved to be a life-long involvement with the 
peace movement. Writing for the weekly journal Guerra e Pace throughout 
the 1980s, she helped organize protests against the presence of nuclear mis- 
siles at the NATO base in Comiso. As she puts it in Friendly Fire, Comiso "was 
a very important period of my life, crucial to my political training and to the 
maturation of my pacifist conscience.™ 

In 1988, she started working for II Manifesto. Independent of any po- 
litical party, 11 Manifesto grew out of a working group composed of Com- 
munist Party dissidents, and has published a daily edition since 1971. Soon 
after joining II Manifesto, Sgrena became the paper's go-to source for conflict 
reporting. 'Ihroughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, she reported from Af- 
ghanistan, eventually writing a book on the subject (La Scuola dei TaUbani); 
Algeria, where her coverage of women's rights eventually gave her a reason to 
write another book (I! Prezzo del Vela); and Somalia, where in 1992 she reached 
Mogadishu in a plane "so small and rickety it had to circle around the clouds to 
avoid disintegrating when it hit turbulence," Ironically, when she went to Bagh- 
dad in February 2003, she went not as a war reporter but as a peace reporter. (She 
covered the huge anti-war demonstration on February 1 5 as a participant-ob- 
server.) When the U.S. began to bomb Baghdad the following month, she stayed 
on, despite her editors' entreaties to return to safety in Italy, 

74 The Mind's Eye 

Scth Kersktw 

"For my whole life," Sgrena has said, "I have fought and written on behalf 
of the weakest." Such a journalistic approach would usually earn reproach in 
the West for violating journalistic norms of objectivity. The account of the 
weakest must be balanced with that of the strongest. However, in deciding to 
report the war from the point of view of Iraqis, Sgrena was being faithful to a 
different ideal: the conflict reporter as one who bears witness to the suffering 
of the innocents. II Fronte Iraq, a collection of her reportage from Iraq, gives 
us a good sense of this approach. Here she incisively catalogs the ills of the oc- 
cupation, including the looting of the Tawaitha Center for Atomic Research— 
for which occupying forces had not mustered the manpower or foresight to 
protect. After looters stole unknown quantities of nuclear materials, villagers 
from the surrounding area recovered some of the looted material and— mis- 
taking it for fertilizer— proceeded to use it on their fields. The ensuing con- 
tamination turned the area into what Sgrena calls the "Iraqi Chernobyl," 

One story in particular, published first in II Manifesto in June 2003 and 
later mentioned briefly in Friendly Fire, illustrates how independent reporters 
like Sgrena had to dodge threats not just from elements of the Iraqi resistance, 
but from "coalition forces," as well. The basic outline of this story was first 
reported by Iraqi journalists on the front page of the daily Assoofi: two Iraqi 
girls, 14- and 15-years-oId, from the village of Sowera, apparently had been 
raped by American soldiers; the soldiers then dumped their bodies in front of 
a local hospital under cover of darkness. One later died from wounds relating 
to the attack while the other disappeared, presumed to have died at the hands 
of her family as an "honor killing." 

The American military responded by smearing the source: they claimed 
that Assaah was in the hands of aggrieved ex-Sadaamists, and as proof pointed 
to an anti-occupation statement made by the daily's owner. Shortly thereafter, 
armed American soldiers began to show up at the offices of Assaah; they even 
threatened its editor, N'ima Abdulrazzaq— a journalist who founded Assaafi 
in April 2003 after a 14-year career in journalism— with dire consequences 
unless he retracted the story. (At the time, Sgrena was working on her own 
story about the alleged rapes and visited the Assaah offices a number of times 
to interview staff. In an email to me, Sgrena mentions having been present 
when some American soldiers came to see Abdulrazzaq; and on another oc- 
casion she was conducting an interview with the editor when the windows 
of Abdulrazzaq's car— parked in front of the building— were shot out by an 
unknown assailant.) According to Sgrena, Abdulrazzaq was even tearful that 

Ihe Minds Eye 75 

Serf; Kershner 

the Americans would come to take him away. Abdulrazzaq would eventu- 
ally fully retract the story and fire the reporters who wrote it. While he cited 
fabricated evidence and conflicting eyewitness accounts to justify his editorial 
decision, Sgrena believes the American threats played a bigger role. 

In order to find out what really happened to the two girls, Sgrena went 
to Sowera, located on the Tigris in an agricultural zone south of Baghdad. 
There, she found evidence supporting the original story. Residents told her 
that it started when soldiers began asking some of the young men from the 
village whether they might be able to procure prostitutes for the Americans. 
Apparently, the two teenage girls at the center of this story had accepted some 
money to go visit the Americans because, as one of the residents told Sgrena, 
the girls were from an extremely poor family. Around the time the attacks 
were alleged to have taken place, soldiers were encamped in [he village and 
had been enforcing a strict curfew. However, Sgrena confirmed that shortly 
after the allegations of rape surfaced, the Americans pulled their forces out of 
the area for fear of retaliation. 'In is case of sexual assault went both unpun- 
ished in the military and unreported in the U.S. media. 

While being unembedded surely helped give Sgrena access to stones like 
the one in Sowera, she can be faulted for her tendency to cast all embedded 
journalists as villains, f act is, many chose to travel with military units because 
they knew the risks of striking out on one's own. They knew that after only 

a few short years of war the number of journalists killed in Iraq exceeded 
those killed in Vietnam, a war of much longer duration. In August 2004, just 
months before Sgrena's own kidnapping, the Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni 
was abducted and later killed by members of the Iraqi resistance. (Accord- 
ing to the most recent accounting of the Committee to Project Journalists, 
150 journalists have been killed in Iraq since 2003, making it the deadliest 
conflict for members of the press since World War II.) Those were the kinds 
of risks that make that Cessna flight over Mogadishu look like a walk in the 
park. And Sgrena was well aware of them. Before it caught up with her, test- 
ing fate was a large part of Sgrena's modus operandi. It consisted, as she puts 
it in Friendly Fire, of three elements: "run the risks, go to Iraq, report on the 
terrible effects of the war." For a time, running the risks seemed to endow her 
with a heightened sensitivity to the dangers of her job. It protected her. But 
it would not be enough to help her avert disaster following a visit to a refugee 
camp in February 2005. 

Sgrena had been obsessed with Fallujah for years and was eager to in- 

76 The Mind's Eye 

Seth Kerstmer 

terview its many refugees, many of whom ended up encamping at a mosque 
on the campus of Nahrein University. Friends of Sgrena's warned her that it 
would be extremely dangerous to go there. In fact, a French reporter, Florence 
Aubenas, had been kidnapped just one month earlier after interviewing the 
camp's refugees. (She was freed in rune 2005.) However, Sgrena could not 
resist trying to record the stories of the Iraqis who were witnesses to one of 
the most devastating chapters of the war. In November, the U.S. launched a 
punishing assault on Fall uj ah, leaving it "almost razed to the ground." Nearly 
40,000 houses were damaged in Operation al Fajr (Dawn); and another 4,000 
destroyed. At the camp she heard stories like that of one young man who had 
sought shelter during the intense urban warfare: 

"Wandering alone and desperate, he headed toward the mosque, 
usually a place of refuge. Not in this case: the floor was covered 
. with bodies. The Americans had killed all the young men seeking 
shelter in the place of prayer, an old caretaker told him — he himself 
had been spared only because of his advanced age." 

At the end of the day, Sgrena and her driver were ambushed just outside 
the camp. Her driver managed to escape, but her kidnappers drove Sgrena to 
a house in Baghdad where she spent the next month in a small, windowless 
room. During that time, she ate on a normal schedule and was allowed to bath 
twice a week; her captors communicated with her and kept her up-to-date 
on when she would be released. In short, she was treated kindly, as she later 
told an interviewer for the Swiss broadcaster RSI. But she was still in a state 
of constant fear for her life. Desperation turned to elation when she suddenly 
was freed, left in a car on the side of the road to await Cahpari's arrival. (Her 
captors' parting words: "We promised your family that you'd return home safe 
and sound, but be careful: the Americans don't want you to return to Italy 
alive.") Then, the attack on Route Irish. Feeling responsible for the death of 
the person who just moments before had given her freedom, Sgrena would 
have difficulty sleeping for months afterward, and told interviewers of emo- 
tional trauma tied to the shooting. 

A sense of unfinished business — personal and professional — motivated 
Sgrena's return to Iraq in 2009, an experience she documented in a series of 
articles later published as /( Ritorno: Dentro II Nuovo Iraq. "Making my way 
back to Iraq," Sgrena recalls in the book's preface, "was a slow and painful 
process: first, a complete turning-away from anything or anyone having to 

The Mind's Eye 77 

Seth Kershner 

do with Iraq. Ihen, little by little, a few emails and the renewing of contacts." 
In Italy, as in America, by 2009 the Iraq war had ceased to be the major news 
story that it had been in previous years. "Wars are ignored," she told an inter- 
viewer who asked about her reasons for returning to Iraq. "If we no longer 
talk about a war, that war no longer exists." Returning to the country would 
enable her both to resume the sort of journalism she longed to do and give her 
a chance to heal old wounds by revisiting the site of her abduction. 

For Sgrena, the easy part turned out to be sending back interesting sto- 
ries from a forgotten war. She reported from Damascus on the plight of Iraqi 
refugees, especially the older women whose husbands had been killed and the 
younger women who had been forced into sex work to support their fami- 
lies. On the streets of Baghdad, she was pleased to report that women were 
actually much better off than in years past. But she was wary of attributing 
the change to the presence of foreign troops: "On the contrary, it shows that 
despite the war and despite the occupation, there are people that still have 
the power to react in positive ways." Yet another positive reaction could be 
found in the grassroots movement to remove the miles of concrete barriers 
snaking through the capital. The barriers had been erected by U.S. forces in an 
attempt to provide security by making it harder for suicide bombers to reach 
their targets, but the youthful leaders of the "Let Baghdad Breathe" coalition 
saw it as yet another imperialist imposition and lobbied for the barriers to be 
brought down. 

While she could feel professional satisfaction from her return to Iraq, she 
had less success when it came to overcoming her personal trauma. She did 
manage to return for a stay at the Hotel Palestine, where she had been living 
prior to her abduction and where a pair of colleagues were killed when an 
American tank fired a cannon round at the hotel in 2004. In 2009, she found 
the place in poor shape, and nearly abandoned — only the eighth floor of the 
high-rise hotel was open for guests. Even the elevator became stuck at one 
point, leaving Sgrena— who describes herself as claustrophobic— to bang on 
the doors for twenty minutes before help arrived. 

Outside the hotel, safe again on terra firma, she searched high and low 
for the site of her abduction, but failed to find it. In part, she felt bewildered 
by the layout of a city which obviously had changed in recent years. But as 
she later conceded to an interviewer, she also may not have been psychologi- 
cally prepared to revisit the place where her life changed so completely. But 
she soon will have a second chance at that. In an email, Sgrena told me that 

78 The Mind's Eye 

Setb Kershner 

as soon as funds are raised, she plans to return. Even though U.S. "combat 
operations" in Iraq officially have ended, the violence grinds on. War needs 
witnesses. And if we accept Plato's dictum that "only the dead know the end of 
war," then perhaps the best witness is the one who sees herself not as amplify- 
ing the lies of generals, but writing on behalf of the weakest. 

The Mind's Eye 79 

Book Review Essay 

New Brain Trends in Art: 

A Review of Neuroarthistory: from Aristotle and Pliny 
to Baxandall and Zeki 


Scholars Rudolf Arnheim and Ernst Gombrich grounded their work in 
art history and the psychology of perception. But around the 1980s, as 
their work grew to maturity, a contrary movement developed. It became 
influential: postmodern deconstructivism, also called post-structuralism. Ma- 
j or arts venues and magazines promoted deconstructivism, and argued thai all 
truths were equally interchangeable constructs supported by political power 
rather than quality assessment and discovery of the facts, Derrida, Baudrillard 
and Foucault became household names in art circles, whereas Arnheim and 
Gombrich and their colleagues didn't gain such fame. Nevertheless, the Arn- 
heims and Gombrkhs of the arts created vast amounts of productive study. 
Leaning forward from and summarizing their viewpoints is John Onians'text, 
Neuroarthistory: from Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki (Yale Uni- 
versity Press, 2007). His book is both compelling and reliable, and should be 

seminars in art theory and practice. It clarifies 

SO Tke Mind's Eye 

Gregory Scheckkr 

links among the arts and sciences, and even contains some good news for the 
few remaining post-structuralists. 

Organized by chapter by art theorist or philosopher, Onians' book places 
neurological outlooks into historical contexts. Each chapter begins with a 
brief biography of each theorist, and then a summary of their work as related 
to ideas of neuroscience and contemporary art theory. 

Onians' text is for the informed reader of art history and general science 
— it helps to have come across Plato's Timaeus and Republic, Hippolyte Table's 
On Intelligence, Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, and Gombrich's Art and Illu- 
sion. Onians also detailed the sources of each thinker's ideas, linking them to 
larger trends of philosophy and culture. This in turn has the eflect of showing 
just how little early philosophers actually knew about the brain. We can learn 
how their guesses inform later thinkers' questions, which gradually develop 
into yet better questions. Onians' book also updates many older theses. As 
such, Onians' book provides many snapshots of how knowledge is built, which 
should interest historians of science as much as students of art. 

One bonus for arts writers and art historians: as our understanding ot 
neuroscience improves, so too must we update our understandings of the arts. 
Rather than engaging seemingly endless literary analyses and post- structural- 
ist jargonizing, we can fine-tune our knowledge and relate it to new evidence- 
Better yet, as revisions must need to occur, the arts might eventually gain a 
series of verifiable consensus viewpoints about how art functions, That would 
indeed be a welcome change away from the 20* century belief that in art any- 
thing goes, that art really only is subjective relativism. And herein is a warning 
for the reader: since this book's publication, many new neuroscience studies 
have continued to advance— some of Onians' detail already may be outdated. 
Fortunately, the broad principles most likely still apply. 

That knowledge can progress and become more precise is a serious 
problem for postmodernists. One bonus for post-structuralists: Onians' text 
firmly establishes how contemporary neurology articulates much of what the 
postmodern theorist in art was so enamored of — the plurality and diversity 
of the arts, the subjectivity of experience, the multiple drafts of imagery and 
interpretation occurring simultaneously. But Onians points out, as have so 
many critics of deconstructivism, that these values can remain mtact without 
having to give up on the sciences. Indeed, by embracing recent discoveries, we 
gain better footing than mere art theories. Post-structuralists may need to give 
up on their mere insistence on their ideas, but they get to keep many of their 

The Minds Eye 81 

Gregory Scheckter 

values, and, using neurological evidence, can demonstrate the necessity and 
viability of a few of their core values. 

One problem facing neuroscientific views of the arts: false stereotypes of 
science as rending mystery with its reductions of pure logic. Such stereotypes 
of the sciences sit at the center of reactions against science in general: how 
can you reduce art to something so lacking passion, so emotionless, so lack- 
ing in mystery? Neuroscience, for example, shows us that the mind is what 
the brain does, and not all that the brain does. But before you dismiss this 
common contemporary statement about the mind as a mechanistic reduction 
belittling the magic of the soul, you should understand that the brain is intri- 
cate — to say that the mind is much of what the brain does is to say that the 
mind, whatever it is, is borne of a beautiful series of mterlayered, interwoven 
and interdependent intricacies that we are beginning to understand, that we 
know to be constantly modeling and remodeling and filtering and amplifying 
all aspects of our experience. The intricacies of the brain are astonishingly 
beautiful, more so for being real and verifiable. 

Another problem: we also might ask what makes the visual arts, as per- 
haps emergent properties of cognition, any different than the brain- worlds of 
visual perceptions that aren't art, but are visual? With neurological approach- 
es, we run the risk of making statements about art that are a little too global or 
all-encompassing, and as such it's difficult to find any conclusions that apply 
to the practice of making new artworks. 

But this shouldn't deter us; to the contrary, I think it's exciting for us to 
have a great deal more to discover. Onians' book certainly is a good proof of 
this excitement. And just as art helped unpack early ideas of anatomy, and 
early optics, perhaps today it can help us learn to understand some of the laws 
of the mind. I'm reminded of the great teacher Sir Joshua Reynold's prescient 
words from his IS* century Discourses on Painting, that "a room hung with 
pictures is a room hung with thoughts." Onians' text concurs, and provides an 
outstanding overview of ideas and evidences: reading it is reading a new, 21" 
century approach to art history. 

82 The Mind's Eye 

Book Review Essay 

Academically Overstated: 

Review of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on 
College Campuses, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa 
(University of Chicago Press, 2011) 


ver-emphasizing how college studies do not increase critical think- 

ing skills, Arum and Roksa's book, Academically Adrift: Limited 

^^^r Learning on College Campuses (University Chicago Press, 2011), 
skyrocketed into the forefront of recent texts critical of higher education. It is 
an important book for political reasons, but it is too thin on data. 

We're told that 36 percent of students don't improve their critical think- 
ing as a result of college. How come so many students don't learn more? The 
authors spread the blame across students' habits, professors' teaching and 
structural issues, such as when research conflicts with teaching. The core of 
the book is that higher education's mission is to increase critical thinking 
skills. If you buy into this narrow assumption, then it appears that teachers 
aren't helping about a third of their students. 

What are some solutions? Roksa and Arum emphasize that faculty who 
demand high standards, integrating assignments that require students to read. 

The Mind's Eye 83 

Gregory Schneider 

write, and synthesize course materials, will tend to improve student learning, 
They base this prediction on the College Learning Assessment (CLA) exam in 
relationship to their own surveys of student experiences. 

Unfortunately, contrary to the authors' conclusions, demanding teachers 
made little difference. For example, when discussing how CLA scores might 
improve if teachers assigned more reading and writing, the authors predicted 
a potential 23 -point increase in CLA scores. Considering that CLA scores 
range from to 1,800 (in 2007), we must recognize that 23 points is, well, not 
much. This small increase probably falls within the standard range of error 
for this kind of study. Such small gains show that the effort to make college 
courses more rigorous actually doesn't add up to big enough improvements 
in students' increased learning. 

Of students' responsibilities, we're told that studying helps. But the evi- 
dence shows it didn't help much. Roksa and Arum's data predicted less than 
a 2 percent advantage between students who studied only a few hours per 
week, versus those who studied 15 to 20 hours. Such small gams, only about 
a tenth of a percent per hour of studying, might demonstrate that students 
make wise cost-to-benefit balances, seeing that too much effort doesn't have a 
big enough payoff, it's also possible to use less time but study more effectively. 

Even if we add together all the predictions that the authors discussed 
(score increases for teacher rigor, study habits, choice of major, etc.) the data 
predict too little an increase to merit restructuring higher education. Arum 
and Roksa appear to have overplayed and overstated the significance of their 
research's data. 

Additionally, in order for a course to be considered rigorous, the authors 
quantified 40 pages of reading per week, plus at least 20 pages of writing per 
semester as rigor. But, which books and what quality of writing? And further, 
what about art courses, such as introductory painting, where the critical task 
is making paintings? What about a math class where three or four pages of 
reading complex formula can actually be weeks of study? Academ ically Adrift 
too often mistakes quantity for quality, and mere literacy for in-depth, critical 

Often valid comparisons were missing. For example, today's students 
aren't studying as much as students did in the 19608. Arum and Roksa suggest 
that this fact indicates decreased learning. But we don't know what students 
in the 1960s would have scored on today's CLA exam— did their increased 
hours studying help them? And meanwhile, we ought to ask whether students' 

84 The Minds Eye 

Gregory Scheckler 

non-study activities create value. Compared to earlier generations, we know 
our students invest time playing video games. A study published in March 
2012 showed that playing video games increased all types of creativity (Jack- 
son et al, "Information technology use and creativity: Findings from the Chil- 
dren and Technoiogy" Computers in Human Behavior, 2011 DOI: 10.1016 /j. 
chb.201 l.lO.Onfil. Could it be that our students gain more cognitive benefit, 
and more efficiently, from their activities outside of class — such as video 
games — than by too much emphasis on inessential academic tasks assigned 
by curricular authorities? Maybe a lesson is not that teachers ought to return 
to stodgy old ways of delivering reading and writing assignments and more 
assessment tests, but rather, that professors should evolve into the worlds best 
video game designers. Maybe education should skip mere video games, and 
go for the full holodeck experience? If mere video games improve creativity, 
then, why not? 

; It's difficult to not want to agree with Arum and Roksa's intent, which 
places more emphasis on creating successful undergraduate learning. And 
any professor who has slogged through committee workloads blows by hard 
experience how too easy it is to complain that "undergraduate learning is pe- 
ripheral to the concerns of the vast majority of those involved with the higher 
education system"(p.l43). Nevertheless, their data are not robust enough to 
suggest causes and deep correlations for just exactly how to improve the over- 
all quality of learning, which in turn means they have not demonstrated that 
higher education is in crisis, despite their pleas that the problems of higher 
education are so entrenched that "some form of exogenous shock to the sys- 
tem" is likely required; a Sputnik moment, perhaps. 

The books unwarranted conclusions fuel political forces against higher 
education. Already, the book's conclusions have been co-opted by lobbyists 
who wish to de-fund higher education. And thus for political reasons, higher 
education cannot ignore this book. My own sense of the situation is that we all 
would benefit from decreased costs of tuition and fees with greater access for 
more students, improved hiring of all full-time teachers, all while maintain- 
ing the quality of teaching and research. Ideally, we decrease costs and also 
increase quality— but to do that we'll need much more robust data than what 
Academically Adrift provides. 

The Mind's Eye 85 


Mark Miller is a professor of literature and the chairperson of the English/ 
Communications Department at MCLA. He received his M.A. from the Uni- 
versity of Houston and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, He is a Robert 
Penn Warren scholar. 

Jill Gilbreth teaches creative writing and literature at MCLA. Her fiction has 

been published in Ploughshares and was included in the Best American Short 
Stories 2008 "100 Distinguished Stories" list. She is working on her first novel. 

Jeff McRae teaches 20th century American poetry, creative writing, the prose 
poem, literary surrealism, and composition at MCLA. He received an M.A. 
from the University of New Hampshire and an M.KA. from Washington Uni- 
versity, He has been published in numerous literary journals and magazines. 

Michelle Gillett has been an op-ed columnist for the Berkshire Eagle for twenty 
years, a contributing editor to The Women's Times, as well as the author of three 
books ofpoetry, including her most recent, 'Ihe Green Cottage, which won The 
Ledge 201 1 Poetry Chapbook Competition. 

Melanie Mowinski, PRESS Gallery founder and assistant professor of visual art 
at MCLA, is committed to sharing her love of art, book arts, and printmaking 
with as many people as possible. 

Abbot Cutler is a former associate professor of creative writing at MCLA, as 
well as a current member of Slate Roof Press. He has published two books of 
poetry, 1843-Rebecca-1847 and The Dog Isn't Going Anywhere and has work in 
Orion magazine, Ploughshares, and Blue Sofa Review. 

86 The Mind's Eye 

About the Authors 

Barry Sternlieb has published three books of poetry: Thoreau's Hat, Fission, and 
Winter Crows, which was the winner of the Codhill Poetry Chapbook Award. 
Sternliebs poetry also has appeared in Poetry Wilderness, Poetry Northwest, The 
Midwest Review, Quarterly West, Poet & Critic, The Literary Review. He is the 
publisher of Mad River Press. 

Hannah Fries is the poetry editor and an associate editor at Orion magazine. 
Work she has edited won the Pushcart Prize and also appeared in Best American 
Essay. Her own poetry has appeared in a variety of literary journals, including 
the Cortland Review. She was selected for an artist residency at the Colorado 
Art Ranch. 

William Montgomery is a professor emeritus at MCLA where he teaches part- 
time in the interdisciplinary studies program. He is a former associate editor 
of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin and a previous managing editor of 
The Mind's Eye, 

Gerol Petruzella is designing and teaching an introductory philosophy course 
as a role- playing game, entitled "Dungeons and Discourse." He is unduly fasci- 
nated by ancient Greek philosophy and language in his personal life, and is a 
visiting lecturer and academic technology coordinator at MCLA. 

Seth Kershner teaches Spanish at MCLA. He is the co-author (with Scott 
Harding) of Just Say No. 

Gregory Sthedder is an associate professor of art at MCLA. He often can be found 
skiing and hiking throughout New England. He lives in Williamstown, MA. 

Deborah Brown is a creative writer who specializes in memoirs, although 
she also loves poetry, In addition, she is a freelance editor who lives in North 
Adams, MA. 

Jason Wandrei attended Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he earned his 
M.F.A. in writing in 2008. He works as a technical editor at General Dynamics 
Advanced Information Systems in Pittsfield, MA. 

The Mind's Eye 87 

Writer's Guidelines 

While emphasizing articles of scholarly merit, The Mind's Eye focuses on a general 
communication of ideas of interest to a liberal arts college. We welcome expository 
essays as well as fiction. We publish yearly. The deadline for submissions is July 1 5, 

Submissions should adhere to these guidelines: 

1. Submit unpublished manuscripts both on paper and on disk, using either PC or 
MAC platform word-processing programs. Manuscripts should be typed double 
spaced and printed on one side of the paper only. List your name, address, phone 
number and e-mail address, if available, on the cover sheet, and your name at the top 
of each page. 

2. We will consider simultaneous submissions under the provision that the author 
notify us of this and contact us immediately if the material is accepted elsewhere. 

3. If you wish your manuscript and disk returned, please enclose a return self- 
addressed envelope. If it is to be mailed off campus, attach sufficient postage. While 
we make every attempt to safeguard your manuscript and disk, we cannot be held 
responsible for their loss. 

4. Use MLA style, with in-text references, as appropriate to the content and disciplin- 
ary approach of your article (see MLA Style Manual for guidelines). 

5. Please include a word count. 

6. While we will consider articles of unspecified length, preference is given to articles 
of fewer than 20 pages. 

7. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and accuracy 

8. We will consider one-color artwork (e.g., photographs, line drawings, woodcuts). 

9. Payment will be made in contributors copies. 

Submit your manuscript to: 

The Mind's Eye 
Frances Jones-Sneed, Managing Editor 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 
375 Church Street 
North Adams, MA 01247 
For queries: 

88 The Minds Eye 

The Mind's Eye 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Ai ls 
375 Church Street 
North Adams, MA 01247